Domestic Travel

Courtney Allan

Palm Beach in Manly to have world-first Urban Night Sky Park

Palm Beach in Manly to have world-first Urban Night Sky Park

Before the introduction of electricity and city life, thousands of twinkling stars could be seen when night fell.

Unfortunately, due to the increasing dependence on electricity, the stars are becoming harder to see.

A woman in Terrey Hills is the driving force behind making the world’s first Urban Night Sky Park at Palm Beach in Manly, NSW.

Urban Night Sky Parks are chosen by the International Dark-Sky Association for their exceptional clear skies which are ideal for stargazing. This is despite their close proximity to major cities.

“Palm Beach is fantastic,” Marnie Ogg, the woman behind the Urban Night Sky Park project said to The Daily Telegraph.

“On a clear night at the Sydney Observatory you can see 127 stars by the naked eye. At Palm Beach you would be able to see more than a thousand.

“By getting the status we will hopefully be able to maintain that and possibly even improve it.”

Gaining the status of an Urban Night Sky Park is not easy. There are four requirements that have to be met, which are:

  • Lights in the area must be night sky friendly
  • Must be a commitment to public outreach and education with at least four events annually
  • Local government must be committed to night sky friendly lighting
  • Must be regular checks on the lights used in the area

The project has taken some time, but with Northern Beaches Council recently throwing their support behind the plan, Palm Beach is expected to formally get the status within the next two years.

Why Palm Beach?

Palm Beach in Manly is in a unique location as the Pacific Ocean is on one side and Ku-Ring-gai Chase National Park on the other. Due to this location, there is an absence of light pollution which makes it perfect for an Urban Night Sky Park.

“The Milky Way is pretty special at Palm Beach,” Ms Ogg said. “That definition of the Milky Way is very rare.”

“Between late August and October you can see five planets by the naked eye. There’s Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and sometimes Uranus.”

Ms Ogg is excited that the park is going ahead.

“I think there is also something just a little more primeval. There is just a basic human need to be linked to the night sky.

“Up until 200 years ago a night’s entertainment would be looking at the sky. We don’t have that anymore.”

However, if you’d still like to enjoy stargazing and don’t mind a bit of a road trip, you can head out to Warrumbungle National Park in NSW.

“Warrumbungle’s new status as a Dark Sky Park is a monumental achievement for the National Park, and a hopeful sign for the future protection of dark skies in Australia,” IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said in a statement.