In an Aussie first, Palm Beach Headland has been designated as an Urban Night Sky Place (UNSP) by DarkSky International.

Palm Beach Headland now joins more than 210 Places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution.

The designation demonstrates how good quality lighting and design can reduce the impacts of artificial light on the natural nighttime environment and open up opportunities for better viewing of our night sky.

An UNSP aims to preserve a dark sky experience for visitors and educate people on the benefits of proper outdoor lighting that ensures public safety while protecting the night sky.

Positioned on the outer edge of the city region and on the northern most tip of Palm Beach, the Place covers 62 hectares and incorporates Governor Phillip Park and Barrenjoey Headland which is part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

DarkSky International designates Urban Night Sky Places following a rigorous application process to meet specific program requirements.

Northern Beaches Council Mayor Sue Heins said Palm Beach is already world famous and it’s incredibly special to be designated an Urban Night Sky Place.

“We’re extremely proud to be the first designated Urban Night Sky Place in Australia and the southern hemisphere. Through a lot of hard work and consultation with our community we can now join the 160,000 square kilometres of protected land and night skies in 22 countries on 6 continents.

“This designation is a testament to our commitment to preserving and celebrating the beauty of the night sky amidst urban environments. As cities expand and light pollution increases, it becomes increasingly crucial to protect and appreciate our connection to the stars above.” Mayor Heins said.

“This is an inspirational achievement for the Northern Beaches Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). As the first UNSP in Australia, this initiative will inspire others to protect the area regionally and demonstrates to Greater Sydney the importance of good lighting practices to ensure safe public safety while preserving natural night skies,” said Amber Harrison, Dark Sky Places Program Manager.

Council worked closely with a Project Working Group including National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), local business representatives, local community representatives and community representatives to prepare an application to DarkSky International. Council also worked closely with Ausgrid who introduced a new street lighting type for biodiversity sensitive areas that meets the Dark Sky requirements.

“Ausgrid is pleased to be collaborating with Northern Beaches Council to deliver a bespoke streetlighting solution that meets the strict Dark Sky requirements. The luminaires we installed use the latest smart technology, while providing safe lighting for the community.” said Jiri Heider, Ausgrid’s Council Manager, Lighting & Smart Solutions.

According to Phil Angilley of the North Sydney Astronomical Society and a member of the Project Working Group, “there is nothing better than seeing the look and excitement on the face of a person, young or old, the first time they look through a telescope”.

Supported by NPWS the aim of the application was to demonstrate a site with good lighting practices that allow for safe public use whilst protecting our night sky.

“This site is special, being a national Park and listed on the NSW State Heritage Register due to its rich natural and historical value. It will provide another reason for people to enjoy and respect such a beautiful location.” National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Chad Weston said.

The site’s historical significance dates back to early settlement with Governor Phillip himself naming Barrenjoey Head. Since its discovery, people have come to enjoy the beach, picnics, walks up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The area is also famously known as Summer Bay to viewers of the popular Home and Away television show regularly filmed in the area. It’s also home to North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club, two top-rated restaurants and a beautiful golf course.

By earning this distinction, Council not only helps to preserve the natural wonder of the night sky but also creates opportunities for stargazing and astronomy education within our community. Stay tuned for upcoming events.

The mission of DarkSky is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at DarkSky.org

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