On a cloud-free evening, an explosion of stars and streaking meteors can be seen against the backdrop of the Milky Way, twinkling from one horizon to the other on the tiny island of Sark. One of the Channel Islands, Sark is located 80 miles (129 km) off of England's south coast. In 2011, the International Dark-Sky Association recognized the exceptional nighttime blackness of this Channel Island community as the world's first "dark sky island."
"If you go to a place like Sark, the Milky Way is a regular feature of the night sky. It always fills me with a sense of wonder,” said Steve Owens, an astronomer living on Sark, in The Guardian newspaper. “Each of those dots is a sun and there are 100 billion of them. It makes me appreciate how special Earth is.”
Life in the heart of darkness:
- There are no streetlights or cars polluting the nighttime darkness on the Isle of Sark. The island’s 600-strong community is also careful to limit any unnecessary lighting.
- The only motor vehicles allowed on Sark are tractors, which tow trailers of supplies from the harbors and, in emergencies, pull the island's fire engine and ambulances.
- Other dark-sky communities include the Isle of Coll in Scotland, Borrego Springs in California, Dripping Springs in Texas, Homer Glen in Illinois, Beverly Shores in Indiana, and Flagstaff and Sedona in Arizona.