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Interactive map of Britain’s night skies: user guide

Silhouette looking out at night sky
Most of us don't get to see a truly dark sky, our data shows Joshua Earle / Unsplash

There are many ways in which you can use the interactive maps, which was created using OpenStreetMap and World Imagery satellite maps. This means that there will be more detail the further you zoom in and you can view either as a traditional map or as a real world satellite image which shows the buildings and terrain. There is a drop-down menu towards the top right of the screen to change base maps.

The legend

On the right hand side of the screen you will see the legend where you can switch on various layers to show on the map, including the English regions, counties, districts, and at a larger scale National Character Areas. The map also shows National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales, and the National Parks and National Scenic Areas in Scotland. Once you have your bearings, be sure to switch on the ‘night lights’ layer to show the range of light levels in that area. You will also need to switch on the type of boundary you would like to view on the map

Detailed maps and PDFs

Detailed maps have been created for England. By clicking on a location it will generate an information box on the right of the screen (under the ‘Detailed maps and statistics’ menu). This will tell you what percentage of that area falls within each of the nine categories and how it ranks when compared with other places. You will also see that there is a hyperlink to the detailed PDF map for the location, so you can download or print that map. For example, if a user were to zoom to an approximate location then tick the box which showed district boundaries, it would show the districts in that area. On clicking a specific location, it would generate detailed information for that location and show a link to download a PDF map.

Searching the map

You can use the ‘Search Tools’ menu to look for the first half of a postcode and generate a printable map based on that postcode (these maps will not show details of the percentage of an area in each lighting category). There are also drop down lists of districts, counties and National Character Areas; simply start to type the area you are looking for and it will bring up a shortlist of locations. For example, if you wanted to find North Devon district, then begin writing the first few letters and a list will appear for you to choose from.

Launch the map