Exmoor's Dark Skies Success Story


Events at Exmoor’s Dark Skies Festival celebrating the region’s spectacular night skies have all but sold out this year. But over half-term there’s still a chance to book onto virtual astronomy sessions for children and adults, enter this year’s photography and astrophotography competition to win great prizes, or to plan your own dark skies adventure with the range of resources and telescopes available to buy and rent from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster or Lynmouth.

Now in its fourth year, the Festival (16th - 31st October) is run by Exmoor National Park Authority to promote the area’s designation as an International Dark Sky Reserve and provide a boost tourism in the often-quieter autumn season.

This year’s photography competition is all about capturing Exmoor at night and is a great chance to get creative as a family over half-term and try and capture Exmoor from a completely different angle or choose one from a past trip. There are a wide variety of categories, including ‘Enjoying Exmoor’s Dark Skies’ and ‘Dark Skies over Exmoor Landscapes’ so a mobile phone and some creativity is all that’s required to enter. For more experienced photographers there are also categories for deep sky and astrophotography, along with some fantastic prizes including telescopes from Celestron UK, gin from Wicked Wolf, hot drink supplies from Miles Tea & Coffee, and subscriptions to Astronomy Now and Exmoor Magazine. Closing date 2nd November.

Katrina Munro, who coordinates the Festival said: “The response from the public has been fantastic and all of our events on the ground are now fully booked. We have have had to reduce capacity to ensure social distancing but people of all ages have experienced some wonderful clear skies and fascinating astronomy talks on the planets, galaxies and black holes.

“We want to highlight how the darkness of our skies here on Exmoor really is quite unique and that they can be enjoyed in all seasons. Some businesses such as Wild About Exmoor offer year-round stargazing experiences and telescopes can be hired any time from our National Park Centres. We also have some specially trained Dark Sky Friendly businesses who can help visitors stargaze and make the most from their holiday.”

“The Festival is running until 31st October and this year includes several virtual events, so even if you can’t make it to Exmoor you can still join in. Popular astronomer Jo Richardson from Space Detectives is running two half-term workshops for children with a passion for space and National Park Ranger Patrick Watts-Mabbott is running a live on-line event on night-time bio-luminescence.”

Visit for details of all the virtual events and photography competition.


Published: 23 October 2020

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