Thousands Flock to Experience Exmoor's Dark Skies
Three thousand people took part in events during Exmoor National Park’s Dark Skies Festival over the past two weeks (20th – 4th November).
Immersive planetarium experiences, space-themed family fun, stargazing suppers, astrophotography, nocturnal wildlife events and guided moonlit walks were just some of the 40 events enjoyed by people from all over the South West and beyond. One event even had visitors from Thailand and Italy.
The variable weather did little to deter star seekers, with over 60 people heading out for a night walk on Dunkery one evening despite heavy fog and chill. While those who took part in a workshop on night navigation a few days later basked in near perfect starlit skies.
Exmoor National Park Ranger Tim Parish, who led the workshop, said: “The conditions on the walk were perfect – cloudless sky, cold air and no moon. On such nights you experience the stars as few of us do in this world of artificial light. Night navigation today is the same as it was thousands of years ago, and I hope these kind of walks give people the confidence to go out and try it for themselves.”
As an internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve, the extremely low levels of light pollution on Exmoor mean thousands of stars can be seen with the naked eye, making it one of the best places in the country for stargazing.
A poetry competition for those inspired by their dark sky experiences on Exmoor is running until next Friday 17th November, with categories for all ages. The winning entries will be posted on the Exmoor National Park website and displayed in National Park Centres, plus they’ll receive a dark skies goodie bag with prizes sponsored by Sunday Afternoons and Astronomy Now Magazine. Find out more on the Exmoor National Park Website.
Katrina Munro, who co-ordinated the festival, added: “We were delighted at the enthusiasm shown by businesses wishing to add events to the festival and that so many of them sold out, meaning thousands of people were able to experience our spectacular night skies. Looking to the future we hope to build on this success to attract more visitors and raise awareness of the value of dark night skies and the simple steps we can all take to help conserve them for people and wildlife.”
This year’s festival, sponsored by Airband, was the second such event and plans are already underway for the next festival in 2019, which will extend from the full moon on 14th October to 3rd November 2019. Anyone wishing to be involved can contact Katrina on 01398 323665.
Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority said: “Our inspiring landscapes and incredibly dark skies provide a real opportunity for tourism businesses to attract more visitors outside of the peak season. We organise the festival to help raise awareness for the area and increase understanding and appreciation of its special qualities. At the same time we’re delighted to be able to support the tourism sector by encouraging local businesses to run their own events to help grow the rural economy. I would like to thank all those involved in the festival from our sponsors at Airband, to all those that volunteered to help events run smoothly.”
Published: 8 November 2018
Contact the press office:Ailsa Stevens
T: 01398 323665
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