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Dark Sky Park Mandø

In a collaboration with Mandø Joint Council and several educational institutions and voluntary contributions, Esbjerg Municipality is developing Mandø into a Dark Sky Park, which both humans and nature can benefit from.

All over the world, there are more and more complications due to light pollution, which has negative consequences for both humans and animals. Mandø, with its unique location, in the middle of the Wadden Sea, is part of the World Heritage List and protected from most light pollution. But the location and membership is no guarantee for protection against artificial light, because natural darkness is only protected by commitment and ongoing work. 

With support from both local and national politicians, local citizens and groups of private activists with both national and international reach, the project to make Mandø a Dark Sky Park was initiated. The project will guard the precious darkness and spread out knowledge about the advantages and possibilities to e.g. watch millions of stars on the sky, if you just change the habits and needs of artificial light a bit. 

The location of Mandø; close to big cities like Esbjerg and Ribe, provides access for many people and businesses, who can get inspired to use the world's resources better and enjoy the nature.

Whether it is a dark winter night or a bright summer night, Mandø offers a range of special astronomic phenomena, which are worth experiencing. See the calendar further down on this page for the phenomena and select a day with limited clouds for the best experience.

The projects

Collaborations

The project is a collaboration between local fiery souls, amateur-astronomers and educational institutions across all age groups. It has synergies with a project by Aarhus University in Australia and a nature project on Mandø between the Danish Nature Fund, National Park Wadden Sea, the Nature Agency, Esbjerg Municipality and local landowners, which all work to optimize the conditions for breeding and migratory birds on Mandø. Darkness is an important element in optimizing the conditions.

The project Dark Sky Park Mandø is about living up to the standards that the International Dark Sky Association recommends, to become certified as a Dark Sky Park and thereby increasingly share information about the advantages of darkness and hinder future deterioration.

Born out of the plan to establish the Dark Sky Park also emerged a collaboration with Port of Esbjerg to reduce and inform about light on the on- and offshore installations. This way, the big players on the harbour have gotten more aware of the possibilities in limiting the use of artificial light and reconsiders their normal way of doing things.  

Remote telescope

Esbjerg Municipality has applied for funds to establish a remote observatory with a 60 cm mirrored telescope on Mandø. The primary users are expected to be from high- and primary school as well as amateur astronomy groups. However, educational institutions and other interested people abroad will also have free access.

The project is based on a collaboration with Aarhus University, which has a similar project, on the other side of the world, in Australia. The software and educational material, which is produced for the telescope in Australia, is made available in Denmark, where a long list of educational institutions is ready to adjust the material to the Danish sky and context for students at all levels.

Via the observatory, students and other interested from all over the world can observe the night sky and extract data. Since the other remote observatory is in Australia, the new one on Mandø will be the piece in the puzzle that make live data available day and night.

Communication at several levels

With its already well-preserved darkness and as a popular tourist destination, Mandø will be a great platform to spread out the word about light pollution and illustrate how even small adjustments make a difference. Mandø can give visitors a taste of what can be visible if the artificial light is reduced, just a bit.

A visit to Mandø will provide easy insights and an experience, even without any prerequisites. Through simple and illustrative communication on site and by educating the local citizens in how to guide visitors, it is possible to get a rich experience, night or day. The intent is, that there will be attractions and guides to good experiences during the day, as well. Nevertheless, the main message is, that visitors to Mandø will be better informed about the qualities of darkness and more aware to protect it.

In fact, he citizens on Mandø is an important piece in the puzzle to make Mandø a Dark Sky Park. Their engagement and commitment to reduce light is a decisive factor. To assist on the way, Esbjerg Municipality has help with guidance about how to succeed in reducing the amount of artificial light.

Calendar to look at the sky on Mandø

If you want to see a clear night sky, new moon is the best time. Below is a list of recommended dates to plan a visit to Mandø and watch the night sky, as the phenomena lies close to a new moon:

2020
14 October: Mars is in opposition
21 October: Orionides (meteor swarm) tops

17 November: Leonides (meteor swarm) tops

13 December: Geminides (meteor svarm) tops

2021
29 January: Mercury stands high on the night sky

13 May: Mercury stands high on the night sky

10 June: Partly solar eclipse is visible from Denmark

2 August: Saturn in opposition
12 August: Perseides (meteor svarm) tops
14 August: Mercury stands high on the night sky
20 August: Jupiter is in opposition

13 December: Geminides (meteor swarm) tops

Advise on light

In order to protect the darkness from artificial light, the International Dark Sky Association has made some guidelines on how to use lamps and light. The recommendations include:

  • Only use light when needed
  • Only light up the needed area
  • Have the light no brighter than needed
  • Minimize blue light and choose warmer colours
  • Use fully shielded solutions that point downwards

Remember, indoor light can also affect the darkness outside through the windows.

Other ways to protect the darkness is to use timers and sensors and turn off the light between 22.00 and 05.00, or by selecting a lower lumen of light.