A tiny UK island where Merlin is buried has become Europe's first stargazing sanctuary | The Sun

A TINY UK island, where legend says Merlin the magician is buried, has become Europe's first stargazing 'sanctuary'.

Only 11 residents live on the island that has no cars, wi-fi or electricity grid, making it the perfect place to watch the skies.

Bardsey, also known as the island of 20,000 saints, is located off the west coast of Wales and is said to be last resting place of Merlin the magician.

The only light visible at night comes from the stars and a distant glow from Dublin.

The island is now hoping that tourists will come and enjoy its starry displays, which have officially been recognised as being "exceptional".

In fact, Bardsey is the first place in Europe to be made an International Dark Skies Sanctuary (IDSS) following a 13-year campaign to be named an official mecca for stargazers.

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The accolade has been awarded only to 16 other sites worldwide, each in locations that have an "exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights".

The award puts it above Snowdonia in the list of stargazing locations, which is one of 18 places to have the lesser classification of an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR).

Since 2007, Bardsey resident Steve Porter has been taking advantage of the dark night skies to capture celestial photos above the island, even building his own observatory.

It was his spectacular images that prompted the Bardsey Island Trust (BIT) to submit a bid to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) back in 2011.

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BIT chair Sian Stacey hopes the island’s new status will boost tourism and secure the little community’s long-term viability.

She said "It is a huge achievement and I would like to thank all who have been involved.

"It’s the culmination of several years hard work involving our own team as well as our partners across the region and beyond.

"There’s no doubt that achieving this prestigious status will raise the profile of the island as a unique place in Wales and amongst the best in the world to appreciate the night sky.

"We hope it will also go a long way in securing the long-term sustainability of the island."

A mountain called Mynydd Enlli helps shield the island from light pollution from the Gwynedd mainland.

But there's an open view across the sea to Ireland, so the glimmer from Dublin can be seen on clear nights.

Bardsey is now home to a small community of residents who work the land and fish the seas.

The island has ten cottages for visitors who want to escape modern life during the holiday season.

Ruskin Hartley, IDSA’s executive director, said Bardsey was a welcome addition to the global dark sky community.

He said "Wales is fast becoming one of the leading nations in protecting dark skies as a precious resource that benefits people and wildlife."

For the application, the island’s night sky quality was monitored over four years using the latest technology.

The IDSA also required BIT to draw up a lighting management plan and submit photographic evidence.

BIT now aims to raise awareness of the island and its new status.

Mari Huws, one of the island’s wardens, was part of the certification process.

She said "Living here, I am always in awe of the island’s beauty, and the night sky is very much a part of that.

"Having secured the certification, we look forward to welcoming visitors here over the coming months and years and sharing with them our unique story.

"We knew we lived in a special place – this new status confirms this, with IDSS putting us firmly on the global stage."

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