BA i360 with red and blue lights

By Ferne Arfin 15 January 2020

Celebrate the South Downs Dark Skies Festival in the BAi360

Stargaze in complete darkness from 450 feet above Brighton

As England’s South Downs National Park celebrates its status as an International Dark Skies Reserve, some visitors to Brighton’s observation tower will stargaze from a unique perspective.

As Brighton England’s BA i360 observation tower rises silently, visitors enjoy fantastic high-level views of the south coast. Imagine riding up in the doughnut-shaped glass pod in complete darkness, then stargazing through telescopes from 450 feet above the shore.

That’s what’s on offer for those lucky enough to score tickets for a one-time only, extended ride on February 9 as the BA i360 joins the South Downs National Park Dark Skies Festival. At 6:45 p.m. on the night, lights in the pod will go out for an exclusive, 45-minute flight with an extended period of stargazing from the top. Experts will be on hand to explain the importance of the earth’s dark sky areas and the history of the International Dark Sky movement to protect them. To add to the Dark Skies experience, telescopes for observing the heavens will be on board.

International Dark Sky Reserves

Areas are designated Dark Sky Reserves by the International Dark Skies Association (IDA) for their “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment…specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment…” They consist of core areas that meet specific criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, surrounded by areas that support the dark sky preservation of the core.

The South Downs National Park became a Dark Sky Reserve in 2016, one of only 16 in the world. It was named Moore’s Reserve honor of the late Sir Patrick Moore who was a local resident and who’s television program, The Sky at Night, was a British institution.

Dark Skies celebrations on the ground

From 7 p.m. February 9, dark sky enthusiasts, budding astronomers and anyone who didn’t manage to get at ticket for the BAi360 flight can continue the experience with Virtual Reality stargazing and other family fun at the adjoining West Beach Bar and Kitchen.

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