The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival
7-22 February 2020
An ambitious new annual programme of events at An Lanntair and across Lewis, including theatre, live music, film, visual art, food, astronomy talks, and stargazing.
You can find the full listings for An Lanntair here.
Following the success of their first Dark Skies Festival in September 2019, the second festival is planned for late 2020 (dates to be confirmed). The aim once again will be to celebrate the night skies of the Norfolk Coast through a range of events across the coast.
Find more information on the Norfolk Coast Dark Skies Festival here.
7-23 February 2020
Designated an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2016, the South Downs National Park is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy the sight of constellations, planets and distant galaxies. The reserve status aims to keep the dark skies un-spoilt future generations to enjoy. Held over two weeks, the Festival celebrates their International Dark Skies Reserve designation with star parties, talks, observations and other family activities.
As 2020 also marks the 10-year anniversary of the South Downs becoming a National Park, the festival will focus on 10 actions that individuals can do to protect the night skies.
Star Party on Brighton Seafront
19 Feb: Head down to Brighton Seafront for an evening of moon-gazing with astronomers from the South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex University and Brighton Astro.
20 Feb: Find out more about what life is like on the International Space Station by coming along to our Space Explorers day at the Novium Museum. Learn about working in zero gravity, discover where astronauts get their water from and learn about some of the dangers that can be found in space.
North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales
14 February-1 March 2020
Since 2016's inaugural event, the Festival has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar, with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities celebrating the jewels of the night sky. With over 100 events, join in on a nebula adventure to explore the cosmos for the fifth Dark Skies Festival. There's a selection below, or check out full listings here.
Night Navigation Experience - Nocturnal Adventure at Keldy
15th Feb 18:00-19:30: Discover the forest by night. Venture out with the Forest Ranger stalking through the woodland to try and catch a sound or glimpse of wildlife with your night vision equipment – patience and stealth are key. Also, on a clear night learn about the stars and revel in the beauty of the night
February 19th 11am-12: Children's Bike Ride. Follow the solar system in search of the sun! Suitable for balance bikes and beginners. This is a short traffic free route along a footpath to Cotterforce fall. Book through Stage 1 Cycles on 01969 666873
Exmoor Exmoor Dark Skies Festival
16th to 31st October 2020
As daylight hours begin to fade, October is a great time to celebrate the skies at the annual Exmoor Dark Skies Festival. Full listings can be found here.
Essential Dark Skies Gear
Not sure what to look for or what kit you need to be a budding astronomer? Below is our top tips plus a helpful booklet to download.
- Apps on phone or tablet. There are lots of great astronomy apps available including stargazing guides to help you learn about the night sky. But remember that a bright screen will stop your eyes fully adjusting to the dark.
- Binoculars. A good pair of binoculars is as useful at night as they can be in the day.
- Torch with red light. Keep your eyes in night vision mode. Use a red bike light or paint a cheap torch lens with red nail varnish.
- Warm clothing. Even on a sunny day, after the sun goes down temperatures plummet. Layers of clothing work best rather than one big warm ‘all or nothing’ coat!
- Patience. Waiting for wildlife, for clouds to clear or simply for your eyes to get used (about 20 mins) to the dark takes patience.
Information about all of the festivals and full listings for each of the main host National Parks Dark Skies events can be found here.