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Dark Sky Community

Information about AIDA’s bid for Aireys Inlet and district to become a dark sky community.

AIDA is in the process of applying for accreditation with Dark Sky International (DSI) to become a dark sky community. A dark sky community is a legally organized community that is dedicated to the preservation of the night sky through planning, education, and support for residents.

Accreditation will have significant benefits for the local community, and the environment. Other communities that have received accreditation have used it to promote tours of the night sky, astrophotography and astronomy. Environmental benefits are far reaching and profound. They include the re-emergence of species that depend on a level of darkness for their food source and reproduction, the re-establishment of flight paths for migratory birds, and protection of vulnerable species from predators due to artificial light.

Dark Sky International is based in Arizona, USA. Its charter is to minimise light pollution and protect the night sky. AIDA is liaising directly with the Victorian chapter of DSI (DSIVic), which offers support for communities applying for dark sky status.

The process of applying for accreditation requires a review of council policy regarding street lighting, other public lighting, and residential lighting. There are several technical requirements to be addressed as well as an assessment of lighting both private and public. There is a 10 year window in which these requirements must be met. Surf Coast Shire has given AIDA a formal letter of support that it will undertake a review of its lighting policy with the intention that it will comply with the requirements of DSI.

Aireys is fortunate in that the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View planning scheme refers to the preservation of the night sky and minimising light pollution. This is one of the few areas  the preservation of the night sky is mentioned  in a planning context in Victoria.

To receive accreditation there is also a requirement to demonstrate community commitment to dark skies. This takes the form of community awareness events, for example a star gazing or astronomy event, and the provision of teaching material for local schools about the night sky. Local retailers would be required to show support by minimising their illuminated signage.  AIDA has received several letters of support from local community groups.

While the process of achieving accreditation is arduous, the benefits are enormous. Upon accreditation, DSI works with accredited places to promote their work through media relations, member communications, and social media. An International Dark Sky Place designation helps enhance the visibility of designated locations and foster increased tourism and local economic activity. Designation entitles the community to display the Dark Sky International community logo in official publications, promotions, signs at entrances and within the Community.

Aireys is perfectly located to become a night sky community. The proximity to Melbourne makes it a perfect location for visitors, and the lack of illumination due to the Great Otway National Park and the sea, enable the night sky to be seen clearly.

Further information about IDA can be found at International Dark Sky Association. and International Dark Sky Association (Victorian Chapter).

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