New dark sky park opens for stargazing in Cornwall

Milky Way over Cornwall

Milky Way rising over Kynance Cove, beautiful night under stars - Credit: Kat Lawman

Cornwall's many attractions have been added to with a second designated Dark Sky Park


As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, with new year’s resolutions and aspirations for 2022 Cornwall AONB are thrilled to announce that January is New Year, New Designation! 

West Penwith, Section 07 Cornwall AONB, has been designated an International Dark Sky Park.

It is the second International Dark Sky Park in Cornwall (Bodmin Moor, Section 12 is the first) and only the seventh area to achieve that accolade in the UK. The bewitching landscape has long been recognised as special and designated as part of Cornwall’s Area of Natural Beauty in 1959 but 62 years on, the dark skies above are to be recognised and protected.

Achieving this has been a coordinated effort of an informal partnership that came together as a Steering Group back in 2017. The group consists of local residents, business representatives and Councillors, being given technical support by various Cornwall Council Officers. It is a tough process which has taken the Group many hours of effort, not to mention a 148-page dossier!

Milky Way over Cornwall

Milky Way from Sennen - Credit: Chris Colyer

The West Penwith International Dark Sky Park Designation covers the westerly section of Cornwall’s AONB; it stretches around the coastline from the outskirts of St Ives, through to St Just, Sennen and around Land’s End to Mousehole. Inland it takes in Trethewey, Sancreed and New Mill. 

The wild and rugged landscape of West Penwith is already a favourite for many, and the tranquil, clear night skies are part of the character and heritage of the place. A visit for unbridled stargazing is a must for the year ahead. 

Milky Way over Cornwall

Neowise viewed over Botallack - Credit: Chris Colyer

Need to know
It is becoming more appreciated that proper dark nights bring health benefits for both people and wildlife. Now West Penwith has achieved this designation, the informal partnership will continue to work at keeping artificial light as low as possible. Within the designation area residents and businesses will be encouraged to protect the night sky from light pollution by managing their lighting better.

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No one will be forced to change their existing lights but people will be provided with a guide for dark sky friendly lighting to help them choose the most appropriate external lights. They will also be encouraged to only use lighting where it’s needed and turn off lights when they are not needed.