THE SKIES above Hampshire could be given international recognition to try to keep them clear and dark at night.

South Downs National Park Authority plans to apply to the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), a US-based non-profit organisation fighting to preserve the night, for Dark Sky designation, to try to control light pollution.

Around 100 stargazers counted how many stars they could see in the Orion constellation above the national park as part of the plan.

The results of Star Count 2013, organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association, are due out shortly, and will be used as evidence about the quality of the night skies above the national park, which covers 1,600 square kilometres.

Officials said the proposals are at a very early stage. The whole process could take up to five years.

Joanna Glyde, from the national park authority, said: “This is a big challenge. There are many stringent requirements and with the number of residents dispersed across the Downs, this makes the task that much more difficult.”