Call to protect Exmoor's dark skies as annual festival closes
Around 2000 people attended Exmoor’s 5th annual Dark Skies Festival, which drew to a close on Sunday 7th November. The programme included over 50 events celebrating Exmoor’s dark skies, with those centred on nocturnal wildlife, health and wellbeing proving just as popular as the most traditional astronomy and stargazing events.
Sell out events included a night-time adventure on board the open top Exmoor Coaster Bus and a dark sky and bushcraft family adventure assisted by the National Park’s first ever group of young rangers. The Festival, sponsored this year by telescope manufacturer Celestron, is designed to celebrate Exmoor’s designation as a Dark Sky Reserve as granted by the International Dark Sky Association.
For anyone who might have missed this year’s festival, it may be worth knowing that dark sky events now take place throughout the year. Regular stargazing suppers and wildlife safaris are hosted from the newly established ‘Dark Sky Hub’ in Exford and an ever-growing list of ‘Dark Sky Friendly’ businesses can be found on the National Park’s website and are available to show you the night time sights and sounds.
Exmoor’s new Dark Sky Discovery Trail is also open year-round, providing an easy-to-follow self-guided walk into the core of the National Park’s dark sky zone, with an accompanying guide available for £1 from National Park Centres and their online shop.
Festival coordinator Katrina Munro, from Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Exmoor is one of the last truly dark places in Southern England and by helping everyone to get out and enjoy our incredibly dark skies we hope more will be inspired want to keep it that way. Our Dark Sky Friendly Business training is a key part of this, helping to place dark skies firmly within our rural economy, and we also encourage all residents to get involved by reading about how they can help keep light pollution on Exmoor to a minimum.”
Julie Layzell, Future Landscape Officer for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Protecting the beauty of the darks skies above Exmoor is essential, not only within the dark sky reserve and its buffer zone but across the whole National Park. Our dark skies are as valuable as our cherished landscape.
“With light pollution and its negative effects on the night sky, people and wildlife now better understood, UK Dark Skies Partnership have produced an excellent new guide on reducing the impact of inappropriate lighting. This not only helps keep our night skies dark, it also helps with energy consumption and climate change. The guide is available in the stargazing section of our website and has some great and easy to follow advice on lighting your home or business for anyone living or working on Exmoor.”
Further information on stargazing and dark skies events on Exmoor can be found at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/stargazing.
Published: 15 November 2021
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