Experience the darkness - a rarity in most people's everyday lives
Mandø, the small island in the Wadden Sea off Vester Vedsted, has its very own circadian rhythm - here the tides determine the course of life, for example, whether you can get to and from the island. Mandø is also a place where darkness reigns at night. Studies show that due to its secluded location in the Wadden Sea, the island is affected very little by light pollution from cities like Esbjerg and Ribe. So here you can experience the night virtually unaffected by the rest of the modern world - on clear nights you can see around 3500 stars, including the Milky Way. Experiencing the darkness in this way can give you a sense of being alone in the world, with plenty of space to think your thoughts and find peace. It can even be an experience that children will remember for the rest of their lives, if they live in places where you can hardly see any stars at night.
Plan your Dark Sky trip to Mandø
When travelling to Mandø, be aware that access to the island is via Låningsvejen, which is flooded by the tide twice a day. It is therefore important that you check the tide table at DMI before you set off - so you don't find yourself in the middle of Låningsvejen when the tide comes rolling in. Find the tide table here.
You can also get to Mandø by tractor, and you can also book a guided tour to Mandø.
When you go out into the national park, it is always on nature's terms. This also applies here, because the night has no schedule or agenda, and it can be difficult to predict when there will be a clear starry sky. The best chances of a clear night sky are during the new moon and during the winter months. Check the weather forecast and lunar calendar in advance and go with the mindset that the darkness itself will make for a very special experience - even if the stars and the Milky Way are not visible.
Dark Sky is best experienced in the winter months, when it really gets dark. But you can see exciting celestial phenomena all year round - a bright summer night where it feels like the sun never really sets is also a wonderful experience.
Darkness is worth preserving
In many parts of the world, increased light pollution is reducing opportunities to experience total darkness and the starry sky. At the same time, there is a growing awareness that darkness is worth preserving because it is healthy for both humans and wildlife. Because we live in a modern world, with plenty of light and electricity, there is an increased focus on the fact that darkness should not be lost and that active efforts should be made to preserve it. That's why the Wadden Sea National Park, together with many other organisations in the three Wadden Sea countries - Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark - have joined the Dark Sky Vision. This means that we are working together to protect the darkness in the Wadden Sea region. Read more about the co-operation here.
The importance of darkness for humans and animals
Light and darkness alternate with each other in a natural cycle throughout the day. As humans, we rely on this cycle as our bodies find peace and rest at night when it's dark. With the advent of artificial light, the difference between day and night has diminished. This can lead to disrupted sleep rhythms and poorer sleep, which in turn can cause impaired attention, poorer memory and depression. But it's not just humans that are affected by light. Research has shown that light can also have a major impact on different animal species: light can be hugely disruptive to some species, while others actually seem to thrive on it. Some birds are attracted to light during their migration at night. Here, brightly lit areas in otherwise dark environments - such as factories on land or offshore platforms at sea - can disrupt the sense of direction for migrating birds. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to the birds dying from sheer exhaustion as their flight time is unnaturally extended. Darkness is therefore not only a source of a good night's sleep - it can be vital for both animals and humans.
How to be the best guest when experiencing the dark
- When we are out in the dark, we only use red light - e.g. a bicycle taillight - and we switch off our mobile phones. It takes 40 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness again if you're looking at your phone.
- We stick to paths and roads so we don't trip in the dark.
- We have enough of nature's own sounds and therefore turn down the noise. We move slowly and carefully.
- We respect that certain areas may be closed off during the bird breeding season.
- We generally travel in groups or with a nature guide. It's safer and more fun.
- We park the car and walk around so that the car's headlights do not interfere with the darkness and our night vision.
- We pick up any rubbish we find and take it with us - even if it's not our own.
Link to Dark Sky Mandø
Read more about the Dark Sky project at Dark Sky Mandø