STUNNING images of the dark skies above Cumbria have illustrated the importance of protecting it from light pollution say stargazers.

The photos of the aurora borealis, the northern lights, and star trails were taken by Jeremy Hunt chairman of the Cockermouth Astronomy Society.

Today, Saturday, February 22, the society is holding a series of talks and exhibitions, at Moot Hall, Keswick, from 12.15pm to 4pm, on the dark sky and astrophotography in Cumbria.

A later outdoor event, in Crow Park, Keswick, had to be cancelled due to the weather.

The event is being staged because of increasing concern that light pollution is blotting out the night sky.

It's part of a Friend's of the Lake District campaign to get Dark Skies Reserve status in Cumbria by 2022.

Its website states: "Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health of nocturnal wildlife.

"Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate.

"We need urgent action now to stop light pollution.

Jeremy said people could still find dark skies in the county.

He added: "In Cumbria, as long as you're outside the main towns you rapidly get into a dark sky.

"Once you get out there you see a significant difference.

"In towns you may be able to see a couple of hundred stars but if you go out into the country you could see a couple of thousand."

He added that very dark skies could still be found in places like Borrowdale and Ennerdale.

For details on Cockermouth Astronomical Society's activities go to its Facebook page.

For information on the Dark Skies Reserve campaign go to