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Dark Skies Festival


Exmoor Dark Skies Festival -

Friday 13th to Sunday 29th October 2023. There will be a host of events for families, amateur astronomers and everyone who feels inspired by the outdoors and the night. Events are spread all over the National Park and are run by the Exmoor National Park Authority and many other businesses and organisations. Details of all events and booking links will be added here in due course.

Book your accommodation ahead and stay with a Dark Sky Friendly Business - read more here

Press and public enquiries to Katrina Munro on KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk


Dark Skies Poetry Competition 2022 - The Results

This year we invited poets of all ages to submit a poem inspired by Exmoor's dark skies. Thank you to everyone who entered - the standard was really high. We're delighted to announce the winner and runner-up in each age category below.

Age 10 and under

1st Place  - Alice Woodhams (winner of the Celestron Telescope)

The sky is a jewel encrusted midnight coat,

With stars like pearls and diamonds,

The moon is a crescent button

Gleaming for the sun.

Mars and Mercury are beautiful rubies,

While Saturn is an emerald.

And as I look up from the dusty moors,

I wonder if we are we all alone,

In this beauty of a universe.

Or if there are others out there,

Just like me

Or you.


2nd Place - Holly Henderson 

Exmoor Night Sky

Exmoor ponies gathered close

Snuggling in, warm as toast

Gazing up at the glitter sky

Shooting stars meet their eye

Distant microscopic dots.

Ancient galaxies shining bright

Twinkly sky lights the night

People safe in their cosy, warm beds

Flickering stars above their sleep heads

Mini mars upon us all


Age 11-16

1st Place Al Pascall (Winner of an amazing astrophotogrpahy book)

Stars over Wimbleball

A lake holds a million gems

Jewels reflected from the night sky

Bright against the darkness

The water breaking on the shore

Distorts pinpricks of light

Overhead the sun’s twin sister hides

Covered, momentarily, by a black wisp

Across the water a beam of light cuts the darkness

Framing an energetic puppy dancing in the starlight

Standing by Wimbleball

Holding onto this moment


2nd Place - Cara Hawkins

My life as a bat

My life as a bat

Swooping above the trees,

I listen to the sounds of falling leaves.

I like the darkness of my large home,

for here on Exmoor us bats roam.

Looking up at the sky,

I feel like the moorland is alive.

With sounds of rustling all around me,

And the sound of an owl in a nearby tree.

I think of what this place would be,

Without the help of beautiful trees.

With light pollution in the air,

And loud cars everywhere.

But in the distance I can see,

Soft lights moving warningly.

A reminder of what might come,

If we don't help to save our home.


Ages 17-99

1st Place Francesca Brosan (winner of the Hamper supplied by festival sponsors SBA CiC)

The knowledge of the stars.

What do I know about the stars?

Nothing.

I only know how my daughters move about the earth

Peopling my universe with their laughter

How sometimes we lie together in a field

And watch the heavens for meteorites.

.

What do I know about the stars?

Nothing.

But I have learned to draw the line from Plough to Pole

And I have learned that they implode

When all the outside pressure becomes too much

How they create a tight neat ball of self-consuming flame

Surrounded by a veil of light.

.

What do I know about the stars?

Nothing.

But I know their presence gives a pause

A second in a timeless void to breathe

And in my animal-self to know my light travels on

Perpetual incandescence in other veins

As I have the light of a million stars

Contained in me.

.

What do I know about the stars?

Everything.


2nd Place - Anu Anand 

We lie in pure blackness

In heather & bracken, moss & gorse

Transfixed by the universe above.

Somewhere in the distance,

A wild pony sighs.

Jupiter is big and bright,

Saturn is high…and Mars glows red

Just above the horizon.

We trace the Milky Way’s hazy trail…

And watch half a golden moon rise.

Our breath in cloudy puffs

as we point, astonished.

How many humans over millennia

have huddled together under bright, cold skies

...watching these same heavenly lights?

We have escaped

the sodium glare of the modern world

… to join them.


Stargazing Advice and Tips - For great stargazing advice, moon phases, astronomical events and advice on equipment visit www.gostargazing.co.uk Tips, information and resources to help you get the most from your stargazing experience.


Where to stay during the festival

If you're coming to Exmoor and want to get the best experience of our dark skies why not book yourself some Dark Sky Friendly accommodation ? Our accredited as Exmoor Dark Sky Friendly businesses have all received training and are able to help you make the most of our dark skies during your stay. 

Festival Organiser - If you have any queries about the festival in general then please contact Katrina Munro   KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk