Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2018 will be returning this year with a two-week long programme of events from 20th October – 4th November aimed at inspiring young and old about the wonders of the night sky.
Exmoor is one of only a handful of internationally accredited Dark Sky Reserves, making it one of the best places in the world for stargazing. It means that the amount of light pollution within and around the National Park is tightly controlled, ensuring that the beauty of the night sky can be experienced to its full.
Events will take place across Exmoor suited to beginners and families, as well as those more experienced in astronomy. The line-up so far includes a fun family Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, a mobile planetarium offering an immersive 360 degree experience of the solar system, a night walk during the exciting Orionid meteor shower, during which up to 20 meteors an hour may be visible, as well as traditional stargazing and astronomy talks. And, for the more adventurous, there’ll be night time outdoor pursuits, such as night-navigation walks guided by National Park Rangers, night swimming and mountain-biking.
After many events sold out last year, Exmoor National Park Authority will be organising this year’s Festival over two weeks, giving everyone the chance to get involved regardless of when half term falls in their county. The full programme will be available this Summer on the Exmoor National Park website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/stargazing.
Exmoor National Park’s Katrina Munro, who is coordinating the Festival, said: “Millions of children across the globe will never see the Milky Way from their own homes. But from Exmoor, it can regularly be seen with the naked eye. We’re excited to be welcoming people back to the Festival for a second year to share in the wonderment of gazing up at one of the world’s darkest skies.”
As well as organising the Festival, the National Park is also working with partners across Europe on a new project called Atlantic Net Sky, which seeks to attract visitors from abroad by developing new offerings around astro-tourism. Collaborative working will be a key part in the success of the project, sharing knowledge and experience with other dark sky sites.
Robin Milton, Chairman of Exmoor National Park said, “The last 12 months have seen the continued promotion and protection of Exmoor’s amazing dark skies. In partnership with a number of external organisations and individuals, Exmoor National Park Authority has continued to monitor and protect the quality of Exmoor’s dark sky.
“By inspiring people, residents and visitors alike, to better understand and appreciate the rare qualities that the dark sky above Exmoor has to offer, the National Park seeks to maintain its status as one of the twelve Dark Sky Reserves recognised worldwide by the International Dark Sky Association.”
Tourism businesses and groups interested in getting involved in either the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2018 or the Atlantic Net Sky project can contact Katrina Munro, Economy Project Officer at the National Park, KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk and 01398 322236.
PHOTO: Milky way over Exmoor National Park by Keith Trueman.