THE DARKEST SKIES IN THE WORLD
(P1) The Channel Island of Sark is a British Crown DEPENDENCY with around 600 INHABITANTS – but no cars or street lights. It measures only two square miles. Its CLAIM TO FAME, though, came in 2011: the International Dark-Sky Association, which encourages global efforts to COUNTERACT LIGHT POLLUTION, named Sark the world’s first Dark Sky Island. While some places that receive Dark Sky status are barely inhabited and almost impossible to get to, Sark – located just 25 miles west of France’s NORMANDY coast – earned the award not only for its skies, but for its community’s efforts to preserve their darkness and share it with others.
(P2) And now Sark has another ATTRACTION for sky watchers: its own OBSERVATORY, which opened in October 2015. To match the island’s MODEST size, Sark’s observatory is a tiny wooden SHED in the corner of a farmer’s field.
(P3) The TELESCOPE rests on a PLINTH in a COSY space big enough for half a dozen people to take turns GAZING through the sliding roof.
(P4) Money to buy the SECOND-HAND telescope was raised by DONATIONS and FUNDRAISING from YARD SALES.
(P5) Sark is IDIOSYNCRATIC in other ways besides its MAGNIFICENT night skies. The ban on street lights means that any night-time walks are generally led by TORCHLIGHT, while the lack of cars means people get around by foot, bicycle, or HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE.
(P6) Until 2008, Sark was ruled by a single HEREDITARY figure, the Seigneur, who OVERSAW a PARLIAMENT made up of DESCENDANTS of 40 families who SETTLED Sark in 1565. Queen Elizabeth I offered the island to the original settlers in return for them ELIMINATING the PIRATES who used the island at the time.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Is it difficult the see the stars at night where you live?
- What is the most REMOTE location you have ever visited? Did you see amazing stars at night there?
- What is your favorite island that you have ever visited? Would you like to live on an island?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a very small community?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Claim to fame
- Light pollution
- Yard sale
- Horse-drawn carriage