The week-long Dark Skies Festival, taking place from 15th to 21st February 2016, invites visitors to eye the skies and discover the wonder of stargazing in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.
The low light pollution in both Parks makes them an ideal location for spotting constellations, shooting stars and other cosmic happenings. Together with sky-at-night events, visitors will also be able to discover more of the nocturnal world within the National Parks with guided torchlight walks highlighting the wildlife activity at night.
The programme of activities includes a host of other events such as a dark sky trail run, evening caving, storytelling, glow-in-the-dark writing, poetry readings, solar system scavenger hunt, telescope-making and craft activities throughout the week.
The main events will be held in and around the National Park Centres in Reeth, Aysgarth Falls and Danby, and Sutton Bank and Hawes, both of which are also designated Dark Sky Discovery sites, with skies that have been found to be sufficiently dark that the Milky Way can be seen to the naked eye.
Dalby Forest, another Milky Way class Dark Sky Discovery site in the North York Moors, will also be involved as well as events held in conjunction with Hidden Horizons on the coast.
Both National Parks are working with groups such as the Reeth Informal Astronomy Group and Whitby & District Astronomical Society to stage the Festival. Businesses and attractions throughout the National Parks are also being encouraged to participate by organising their own dark skies event, making it a celestial celebration right across the Dales and North York Moors from the Pennines to the coast.
Richard Darn, astronomer and dark skies hunter, commented: “Yorkshire is fortunate to have some very special spots in both National Parks which are a stargazer’s paradise. In an urban area you will be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night whereas in an area of low light pollution such as the National Parks you could see as many as 2,000.
“We will glimpse the great winter constellations of Orion and Gemini as they give way to the sparkling spring stars of Leo. We’ll also have a stunning view of Jupiter and a waxing moon. It’s a fabulous time to celebrate this amazing Universe and our wonderful dark parks.”