Sark is an astronomer's paradise. The smallest of the four landmasses in the United Kingdom's Channel Islands, it has no paved roads, no cars, and no
public street lighting. Thus it sports precious little of the light pollution that bedevils those seeking a clear view of the night sky. Today, the
Tucson-based International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which works to boost awareness of light pollution and its effects, recognized these qualities by
designating Sark the world's first "dark sky island." The island (inset) is home to about 650 residents, and many of Sark's homeowners and businesses have modified their lighting to minimize the amount of
light spilling upwards, says Steve Owens, a member of the IDA committee that identifies and recognizes sites with suitably dark skies. With the new
recognition, he notes, Sark will likely see a boost in tourism, especially among amateur astronomers who might visit to take advantage of the island's
crisp, clear skies during winter months, perhaps to catch a spectacular view of the Milky Way (main picture).
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