20th November 2015
Sark featured in the music charts
When Irish singer songwriter Enya released her eighth studio album on 20 November 2015, she chose a title with links to the Channel Islands. Dark Sky Island was named in honour of Sark, which had been designated precisely that – a dark sky island ideal for star-gazing – a few years earlier.
The title track was the first she wrote for the album. It is filled with references to waves, boats, twilight and the moon.
Dark Sky Island
Sark was designated a dark-sky preserve on 31 January 2011. It was the first island to be added to the international list of dark sky locations, and only the second location in the UK. It joined Scotland’s Galloway Forest Park, which was similarly designated in 2009.
Exmoor National Park was added later that year, and the Isle of Coll, Northumberland National Park and the Brecon Beacons in 2013.
Certification is overseen by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Anywhere designated a Dark Sky Community is dark enough at night to allow star-gazing with the naked eye.
Sark didn’t just achieve its status and stop there: it built on it by raising funds for an observatory. This officially opened in October 2015 – just one month before Enya released her album.
Housed in a wooden building with a peaked roof, it doesn’t look like a traditional domed observatory. However, the facility does contain several telescopes and star charts to aid navigation and identification. The roof also slides completely away along a pair of wooden rails to give an unobstructed view of the night sky.
The Sark Astronomy Society had the pre-fabricated building shipped from Norfolk and constructed close to the centre of the island by three volunteers. It was officially opened by Dr Marek Kukula, the public astronomer from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.