Exmoor Night Sky Dark Sky ZoneOn the 20th December 2013 in the United Nations General Assembly it was decided that 2015 would be the International Year of Light and now that time is here.

The UN is encouraging everyone to recognise the importance of light both natural and artificial. The main aim is to raise awareness of how light based technologies have advanced and can advance further to promote sustainable development in a wide variety of fields. Light even has the power to tackle global issues such as energy, education, agriculture and health. This is not just a focus on artificial light but also light in nature and what we can learn from it to improve our own technology while preserving nature as well.

This year will focus the world on highlighting light and light based technologies such as LEDs, holograms and lasers. It means that in 2015 large initiatives and consortiums of scientific bodies will be brought together over the year to focus on the topic of light science and its applications.

Many industries will already be well aware of the International Year of Light, particularly if you are heading to any of the major events taking place all over the world to celebrate, educate, develop and promote light in its many facets. For those who are unaware here are just a handful of some of the incredible events taking place across the globe.

International Year of Light Events

In Tokyo Japan from October 28th 2014 – February 22 2015 there are many events and exhibitions related to ‘The Wonder of Light’.

For all design students across the world there was the Natural Light International Design Competition launched by Little Sun and VELUX.

Photon Selfie took place in Norwich in the United States which encourages people to create a photon and take a selfie with it.

In Serres Greece UNESCO and the Natural History Museum of Serres are teaming up to implement a new education programme entitled Light Nature from the 7th January 2015 until April 30th 2015.

Here in the UK we had Solstice Lights & Holograms this month (January 2015) in London. It brought together traditional artistic light works and holographic artists. We also celebrated the Winter Lights Festival in London’s Canary Wharf. It was a dazzling spectacle of light exhibition.

From the 5th January in London until 1st March 24:00:00 is an event that allows you to discover more about the concept of urban lighting.

LED Technology, Light Science & Photonics

The thing that you will learn most from the International Year of Light is the incredible power of LED technology. LED lighting just like the products supplied by local LED distribution company LED Illuminations is the fastest advancing field in the lighting industry.

Over the last few years LED lighting has not just provided a more efficient, environmentally friendly lighting source but opened the door to tackling serious global problems. LED lighting such as simple products like LED strip lights and LED lamps have been found to be beneficial to the growth of plants and the wellbeing of animals just as natural light is. Research is underway to utilise this into solving famine.

LED strip lights and other similar products have also revolutionised art and design as light moves to becoming a controllable, even programmable artistic effect even in the home.

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons. As humans discovered how to generate our own light sources and control it completely changed our world and our potential. Photonics now is everywhere in your daily life from smartphones to medical instruments.

Dark Sky Zones

Of course the International Year of Light is not all about developing new technologies for our convenience. LED lighting is also a main focus because it has the power to reduce light pollution. Light pollution has been one of many big environmental impacts we have had in our development of light but our understanding of light can also solve the problem. This is a major part of the reason behind the International Year of Light. If we switched all our streetlamps to LEDs we could drastically reduce light pollution across the world and return many of our cities night skies. LEDs just like LED strips lights are directional light, meaning they only point in one direction and very little light escapes into other directions hence less light pollution.

In this Year of Light it is good to remember the original sources of light the sun and stars. If you are interested in getting to know the night sky better and learning how LED lighting can save it then you are in luck. Part of the International Year of Light is to raise awareness about dark sky zones. Many of the UK’s National Parks have been awarded a dark sky status to get us reacquainted with the value and majesty of the night sky.

Where Are Dark Sky Zones in the UK?

Exmoor National Park – Status: International Dark Sky Reserve

Northumberland National Park – Status: Europe’s largest International Dark Sky Park

Lake District National Park – Status: Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale is a Dark Sky Discovery Site

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park – Status: Planning to submit an application for International Dark Sky Reserve status in the near future

North York Moors National Park – Status: The Sutton Bank Visitor Centre is a Dark Sky Discovery Site and so is Dalby Forest

Peak District National Park – Status: The access-for-all site at Surprise View near Hathersage, a gateway to the National Park, is a Dark Sky Discovery Site

South Downs National Park – Status: Currently in the early stages of determining the feasibility of applying for International Dark Sky status

Brecon Beacons National Park – Status: International Dark Sky Reserve

To find out what you could save by switching to LED lighting and what makes the night sky worth saving please take a look at the videos below.

Northumberland National Park by Night

MilkyWay in Exmoor National Park

For more information on the value of the night sky head to http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/lookingafter/dark-skies/stargazing_in_national_parks

Stargazing in North Wales

If you are looking to go star gazing in North Wales we recommend anywhere on high clear ground in Snowdonia National Park. People have been visiting Snowdon and the surrounding mountain ranges for years to discover the wonder of the night sky. It can be dangerous heading up at night if you are inexperienced but there are often group events held in the region with experts.

Powys is one of the very best places to go stargazing, in fact it has the lowest light pollution in Britain.

Langollen’s Horse Shoe Pass in Denbighshire is one of the most popular places for star gazing if you head up near World’s End.

Glan Morfa in Anglesey is local North Wales dark sky discovery site of the Milky Way class and has the added benefit of being a top spot for wildlife projects and green tourism.

For more information on photonics, a little introduction to light science and to see how you could reduce your light pollution by using LEDs head to LED Illuminations.

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