IT’S one of those shocks that affects urban dwellers moving to the countryside and people going in the opposite direction.

The skies are so dark or so bright, depending on which way you are going.

For urbanites the startling blackness of the country night sky is countered by the glorious intensity of the innumerable stars.

For those moving into the city one of the downsides is the paucity of stars, barely able to compete against the yellow, or more latterly, after the revamping of street lights, the white shroud that covers all but the brightest stars.

The South Downs National Park has long been campaigning for more to be done to protect the after-dark skies.

It wants action taken to reduce light pollution so that all the necessary light shines down onto the roads and streets to useful purpose and not up into the ether.

As well as being a waste of energy it is the primary reason for why stars dwindle away the closer one gets to the centre of towns and cities.

The problem is clearly shown by this graphic issued by the South Downs National Park authority.

It shows the national park stretching from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the, er.... east.

It’s all relative but light pollution is clearly far worse in the Sussex area with bright orange patches leaking out into the skies above the national park near Brighton and Hove. Over in Hampshire the area around Winchester and Eastleigh has some light pollution but only a few miles from Winchester there are deep pools of darkness north of Owslebury and south of Cheriton, around Preshaw and Kilmeston.

Cutting a swathe north through east Hampshire is the A3 dual carriageway and its ribbon development before the darkness returns in west Sussex.

The national park is taking the issue very seriously. In May 2016 the South Downs National Park became the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve, only the second in England and 12th in the world.

With two million people living within five kilometres of the South Downs National Park and many more within reach in Greater London and southeast England, the South Downs International Dark Sky Reserve is one of the most accessible in the world.

Across the South Downs International Dark Sky Reserve, some of the best locations for stargazing are already designated as Dark Skies Discovery Sites, offering sweeping views of the starry skies.

Devils Dyke near Saddlescombe north of Brighton is a super stargazing spot with incredible views. Likewise Butser Hill near Queen Elizabeth Country Park, not far from Petersfield, delivers immense views of starry skies.

One of the darkest locations in the South Downs International Dark Sky Reserve is at Bignor Hill between Arundel and Petworth. This remote hilltop location offers extensive views of the night sky in all directions and delivers exquisite views of the Milky Way on a moonless night in late summer and mid-winter.

Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium at Morn hill is the largest standalone planetarium cinema in the UK and hands-on, interactive, science and technology centre. Offering a wide range of evening events, stargazers can enjoy wide views to the eastern skies. To the west is the city of Winchester.

Another excellent spot is Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve near Warnford in the Meon Valley – descend into the valley or stay up top and take in the Milky Way while the glow from Southampton sits on the horizon.