Northumberland's Dark Sky Park bid

Northumberland could be home to Europe's largest Dark Sky Park Photo: Tom White/PA Wire

Stargazers are hoping that a remote corner of the North East will become Europe's largest Dark Sky Park.

The Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society are to apply to the International Dark Skies Association (Ida) to get the special status.

Experts have been testing light level in the Northumberland National Park Credit: Tom White/PA Wire

The title would designate the area as an ideal location to view the stars because light pollution is extremely low.

Other parts of the UK such as Exmoor and the Brecon Beacons are dark sky reserves, not parks, which have less stringent rules.

Europe's largest Dark Sky Park is in Galloway, Scotland, but the Northumberland bid would cover a larger area.

Hundreds of light meter readings have been taken around the national park, as part of the bid to the Ida.

Originally, just Kielder Forest was to apply for the coveted status, but that has been extended to the whole of the national park.

Kielder originally applied to be a Dark Sky Park but it has been extended to the whole national park Credit: Tom White/PA Wire

"It is clear that we have what is probably England's largest expanse of remaining truly dark and starry skies.

"A significant part of the National Park has been discovered to be just as dark as the forest and that means we have raised our sights and will most likely go for one Dark Sky Park designation for the entire area.

"Creating such a large park in Europe is breaking new ground and we are working with Ida to refine our proposal before seeking their ultimate adjudication, hopefully by the end of the year."

– Elisabeth Rowark, Chair Dark Skies Working Group
Kielder already has a working observatory close to the reservoir Credit: Tom White/PA Wire

Residents have been reassured that if Dark Sky Park status is won, it will not mean they have to switch off lights at night.

It will mean that new buildings will have to use less light-polluting external fixtures, where light shines downwards and not beyond property boundaries.

The Milky Way is visible to the naked eye in a Dark Sky Park Credit: Tom White/PA Wire

The status could boost tourism and increase visitor numbers to Kielder's already-popular observatory.

Light pollution from street lamps and homes spoils the night sky for astronomers by significantly reducing the number of visible stars.