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Embrace the darkness and win £100 as cosmic competition returns

The South Downs National Park’s popular astrophotography competition returns for its fourth year and is challenging people to capture a dazzling view of the night sky.

The Park is one of only 21 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world because of its particularly “dark” spots away from light pollution.

This year, photographers have the chance to win up to £100 for a breathtaking image in three categories:

  • South Downs Starry Skyscapes – Can you capture a dramatic star-studded photograph of the landscape showing the cosmos above it?
  • Nature At Night – Can you capture an amazing shot of living things in the National Park? This could include wildlife, people, trees, plants or fungi!
  • Magnificent Moon – Can you capture an amazing image of the moon above the South Downs landscape? Images of the moon should be alongside the landscape, buildings, towns, villages, cultural heritage or people in the South Downs.

The runner-up prize in each category will be £50 and all submitted images must be taken within the South Downs National Park.

A selection of photos submitted in the contest will be shared throughout the National Park’s Dark Skies Festival, which will take place from 10 to 18 February. The theme of the festival this year will be about protecting our precious dark skies and an exciting line-up of events and activities will be announced in the New Year.

Judging the contest will be “Dark Skies” Dan Oakley, an expert on the South Downs International Dark Sky Reserve, astrophysicist and the National Park’s Events Assistant Elinor Newman, and Steve Broadbent, Chairman of Hampshire Astronomical Group.

Dan said: “To many people’s surprise, the South Downs is actually one of the best places to stargaze in the world and it’s quite amazing when you consider how close we are to busy light-filled urban locations such as London, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Farnham. We have 10 Dark Sky Discovery sites in the National Park and they are the perfect spots for stargazing, whether you’re a seasoned astrophotographer or trying it out for the first time. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can see with just the naked eye!”

The deadline for entries to the competition is midnight on Friday, 12 January 2024.

Details of the Dark Sky Discovery Sites can be found at

Click here for entry details and to download an application form.

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