The Exmoor Dark Skies festival from the 19 – 29 October 2017 has something for all and provides some great half terms activities for families.
Local children and adults can experience the marvels of the stars above during a mobile planetarium session at Lynton (23 October), Dulverton (24 October), or Dunster (28 October) as part of the inaugural festival, whatever the weather. The sessions, lasting from 45 minutes to 1 hour, offer a 360-degree-space learning experience. High-resolution images, movies and sophisticated computer simulations are projected throughout Space Odyssey’s inflatable dome – above, behind and all around the audience – to create a breathtakingly immersive and inspirational experience.
Every fascinating session will be led by Simon Ould, an experienced science teacher and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Simon uses his extensive teaching knowledge to carefully adapt the delivery and content of each presentation for the particular group involved. Simon said, “Adults and children are often blown-away by an experience in our dome. I’m delighted to be bringing our 6.5 metre Voyager dome to Exmoor as part of the Dark Skies Festival.
“For many children a session in the dome introduces them to the wider world, solar system and the universe for the first time. It really is unforgettable and can impact a child’s understanding for the rest of their life.”
The dome sessions start from just £3 for a child and £5 for an adult and advance booking is highly recommended. Sessions at Dunster also include some solar and stargazing and a workshop with astro-physics students from Exeter University. Visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival for more details, session times and booking. Alternatively call the Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509 (open 7 days).
There are over 35 events across Exmoor throughout the festival, which is sponsored by Airband. The festival is officially launched on Friday 20 October at Winsford Village Hall with the premier of a new short film on Exmoor’s Dark Skies followed by a presentation on Exmoor’s Dark Skies and opportunities to see the Northern Lights by presenter and astronomer Will Gater. Other events include a guide to Astrophotography with Dr Lillian Hobbs of the Royal Photographic Society on 19 October, special film showings of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Space Odyssey 2001’ and opportunities for a glow stick night swim with Channel Adventure.
Katrina Munro of the Exmoor National Park Authority said, “We’ve had huge interest in the festival with many events already fully booked, but there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy the planetarium sessions and other events. Exmoor was the very first International Dark Sky Reserve to be designated in all of Europe and we are excited to be able to help people enjoy them during this festival. We’re hoping for clear skies but the vast majority of the events will be running whatever the weather.”