Seeing the stars inspires highland communities to switch off the lights

Two Highland communities were inspired by star-gazing sessions last weekend to take part in the global Earth Hour event. This will see households and businesses switch off their lights at 8pm for one hour on Saturday 29 March. Community leaders in Knoydart and Laggan are encouraging local people to take part.

Amanda Calvert, Arts, Culture and Heritage coordinator at the Community Woodlands Association said "We are wonderfully privileged in Laggan to be able to see the night sky so clearly. By taking part in Earth Hour, hopefully we can raise awareness of the issues of both light pollution and climate change, and safeguard this fabulous resource for future generations."

Local businesses are backing the efforts. Simon Dodds, proprietor of the Rumblie B&B in Laggan added "The Rumblie is a Green Tourism Business that are supporters of Earth Hour because it is a simple and effect way for many people to take direct action on climate change."

The first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia in March 2007 was inspired by a wish to raise awareness of climate change. It saw 2.2 million people and 2100 businesses turning off their lights for one hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year. This year the organisers are asking people all over the world to make a commitment by signing up on line to turn off their lights at 8pm on 29 March for one hour - Earth Hour.

Grant Holroyd, Community Forest Manager, Knoydart Forest Trust added "We are proud to be adding our voice to those of cities such as Chicago, Dublin and Toronto. This highlights the fact that wherever we are we can all do something to make a difference."

The idea to take part in this year's Earth Hour was born at recent astronomy events run by the Dark Sky Scotland project. The Dark Sky Scotland team took telescopes, demonstrations and planetariums to Knoydart, one of the most remote communities on the west coast of Scotland, and Laggan near Dalwhinnie for a weekend of astronomy activities. These events were part of an 18 month project to highlight the amazingly dark skies enjoyed across rural Scotland.

Dan Hillier, Dark Sky Scotland Project Leader said "I am thrilled that Dark Sky Scotland has inspired people to get involved. Next year, 2009, has been named as International Year of Astronomy. I am hoping that we can harness this to raise awareness of Earth Hour in the UK and have communities large and small across the country taking part."

It is not just communities that can get involved. You can sign up as an individual no matter where you live. To find out more, and to sign up, visit www.earthhour.org.


Image

Night sky

The beauty of the night sky prompts people to take action against climate change and light pollution.


Contacts

Dan Hillier
Dark Sky Scotland Project Leader, Royal Observatory Edinburgh
0131 668 8406
djh@roe.ac.uk

Eleanor Gilchrist
PR Officer, Royal Observatory Edinburgh
0131 668 8397
efg@roe.ac.uk


Notes

Dark Sky Scotland is a national programme of astronomy events, which through workshops, demonstrations and shows, aims to make astronomy fun and accessible for audiences of all ages, from families to school teachers.

Dark Sky Scotland is a partnership of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre, Forestry Commission Scotland, Careers Scotland, Glasgow Science Centre and the Institute of Physics. Additional funding has been provided by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council.

To find out more about Dark Sky Scotland please visit the website.