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With the sea stretching along the whole of the east side of the AONB, it means that even in towns and settlements it is still possible to appreciate the darkness of the skies here. The area is also one of the best locations in England for a chance of seeing the fabulous Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

It is a wonderful experience to sit back on a sand dune, listening to the waves lapping the shore and watching the wonders of the night sky just with the naked eye. Whilst the telescope is definitely the preferred option for astronomers, a pair of binoculars works equally well to start unravelling the wonders of the night sky.  

The best places to star gaze are away from any light pollution. Fortunately, street lightening is limited in the National Landscape so it is easy to find beautifully dark spots along the coast such as the small pull-in car parks like at Cocklawburn, the stretch between Seahouses and Bamburgh or at Goswick.  

The National Landscape has one designated Dark Sky site at Embleton Quarry Nature Reserve. We have awarded this site this status in recognition of its excellent dark sky quality and low levels of light pollution.  

Did you know?

  • The Northumberland Coast National Landscape has some of the most pristine skies in England. Light meter measurements show light pollution levels are on a par with much of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park 

  • The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023/2024. Find out more and why dark skies matter by watching this short video. 

  • The Northumberland Local Plan now includes policy for the protection of tranquillity, dark skies and a sense of rurality Policy ENV 4 states “development that would bring additional light sources into the Northumberland Dark Sky Park, the Northumberland Coast AONB and the North Pennines AONB, and areas of the open countryside where dark skies can be experienced, should not result in a net adverse impact on the level of dark skies and, where appropriate, improvements should be sought”. Many neighbourhood plans also have policies to protect the night sky.  

  • Advice for householders on dark sky conservation can be found here. The Northumberland National Park have produced a succinct Good Practice Guide for external lighting. This practice guide is currently undergoing review to reflect recent research that shows a lower colour temperature on the Kelvin scale is better for wildlife, habitats and humans. Lamps should be 3000K or less.  

  • For wider background on this subject, have a look at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) new report “The World at Night” thatWhile centred on nature protection... also addresses the importance of abating light pollution for cultural and traditional heritage conservation, wilderness enjoyment, security, energy conservation, human health, astronomy and the enjoyment of a natural night sky, from seeing galaxies and stars to planets, comets, meteors and aurorae”  (IUCN 2024). 


Preserving dark skies

Ever-increasing levels of outdoor lighting are constantly diminishing our view of the spectacular sky visible on a clear night, and most people have to travel far from their homes to experience a good view of the night sky. Areas of the Northumberland Coast AONB still retain such dark skies, and these are a special quality of the area, valued by residents and visitors alike. 

The AONB Management Plan sets out our policies to ensure that dark skies are preserved. 

The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies Lighting guidelines.

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