Imagine a place without any light until sunrise. Now imagine that spot surrounded by water as far as the eye can see. The island of Sark, one of the Channel Islands which lie about 80 miles south of England, is such a place – and a stargazer’s paradise. It’s also just been designated the world’s first Dark-Sky Island.
The International Dark-Sky Association encourages communities to embrace the idea of creating little to no light pollution, bestowing the dark-sky title on towns and cities which meet its stringent criteria. In 2001, the IDA deemed Flagstaff, Arizona the world’s first International Dark-Sky City and since then dark-sky legislation has been adopted by over 300 counties, cities and towns.
Tiny Sark is just 3 miles long by 1.5 miles wide, but was selected by the IDA for the quality of its night sky, making it the first island to be honored with the recognition. As chance would have it, I visited Sark a number of years ago along with it’s neighbors, Jersey, Guernsey, and Herm. A day on the car-free island was like a step back in time, far removed from the noise and bustle of modern life. A friend of a friend happened to be the Seigneur of Sark at the time, the head of the government. I showed up unannounced at the official home, La Seigneurie, bearing greetings from America and was treated like a visiting emissary with a private tour of the 1675 house and beautiful walled gardens.