Exmoor Dark Skies Festival: 14 Oct – 3 Nov

Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country so it’s a great place to gaze at the stars.

For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the night sky and wondered at what they saw. This wonder helped to define our sense of who we are, our myths and legends, our religious beliefs and a sense of our place in a wider cosmos.  But the dark skies that were the night time backdrop for the vast majority of human history are for many of us now a rare sight. Our night times are filled with the orange glow of street lighting and we are all more likely to be looking at a television or a smartphone than gazing at the stars.

So why not take the time on Exmoor to look up and rediscover your sense of wonder? Good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. On a clear night the night sky of Exmoor is simply stunning when many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye and even more can be discovered through a telescope or binoculars.

To help you get the most from Exmoor’s dark skies we have produced a new Dark Skies Pocket Guide – download it  here or pick up a copy from one of our National Park Centres where you can also hire a telescope ! –  you can see one of the telescopes and and how to use them in this short video.

Here is the link to the full programme.

Good weather for stargazing? Check out the Exmoor Weather forecast from the Met Office here

Exmoor’s night skies – Dark Sky Destinations releases short film exploring the magic of stargazing from Exmoor

Budding stargazers and astrophotographers can learn about the magic of Exmoor’s night skies thanks to a new short film released by Westcountry-based course provider Dark Sky Destinations.

The 5-minute film has been produced to give visitors to Exmoor, and potential course attendees, an idea of why the region is so special for astronomy. 

To watch the film you can visit the Dark Sky Destinations website https://www.darkskydestinations.com/ or view it on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/283467668.

On the 8th September, Dark Sky Destinations will be holding its first astrophotography course on Exmoor.    

Led by astronomer Will Gater, the evening course – entitled “An introduction to nightscape astrophotography” – will explore the art and science of how to capture beautiful nightscape photos with a DSLR camera. If the weather is good, the course will finish with a guided practical workshop under Exmoor’s exquisitely dark night skies where delegates will have a chance to put what they’ve learnt into practice with their own equipment. 

A small number of spaces are left on the September course, so if you don’t want to miss out book your place via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-nightscape-astrophotography-tickets-44449838664 (booking in advance is required).

Night Sky

 

Wimbleball Lake 3.30am on 1 May 2016.  Moon just starting to rise bottom left, Mars, Saturn and Antares to the right of the Milky Way. Photo by Paul Howell.

Wimbleball Lake 3.30am on 1 May 2016.
Moon just starting to rise bottom left, Mars, Saturn and Antares to the right of the Milky Way.
Photo by Paul Howell.

Wimbleball  Lake. 3 May 2016. Photo by Paul Howell.

Wimbleball Lake. 3 May 2016.
Photo by Paul Howell.

Shooting star over the Milky Way, Mars and Saturn. Photo by John Spurr.

Shooting star over the Milky Way, Mars and Saturn.
Photo by John Spurr.

Moonset from Exmoor.  April 2016. Photo by John Spurr.

Moonset from Exmoor.
April 2016.
Photo by John Spurr.

 

Date for the Diary: Wimbleball Lake Astro Camp

101 Wimbleball Lake Event

From Saturday 1st until Saturday 8th March 2014 South West Lakes Trust would like to invite you to their Astro Camp at Wimbleball Lake as part of National Astronomy Week.

Exmoor National Park is designated as the International Dark Sky Reserve, the first place in Europe to achieve this prestigious award and only the second in the World. Wimbleball Lake was nominated as the first Dark Skies Discovery Site on Exmoor in November 2011.

The week long camp will incorporate a variety of exciting activities for all the family to enjoy including, talks and presentations, workshops, Planetarium, telescopes, stargazing opportunities, plus BBQ’s on Sat 1st, Friday 7th and Sat 8th March. People can attend for a couple of hours, or for the whole week, depending on their availability. Camping / caravanning is also available on our AA 3* rated campsite to maximize the stargazing opportunities. We also have 2 camping pods that are available to hire.

Alex Forster, South West Lakes Trust Exmoor Area Manager said, ‘South West Lakes Trust are really excited to be hosting this Astro Camp as part of National Astronomy Week. Stargazing at Wimbleball is phenomenal as there is so little light pollution, however there will be a wide variety of indoor activities each evening just in case it is cloudy!’

There are many positions at Wimbleball Lake where individual or group activities can take place with level hard surfaced areas overlooking the scenic lakeside with clear big sky views. For more information please call 01398 371116 or email aforster@swlakestrust.org.uk

South West Lakes Trust is the region’s largest combined environmental and recreational charity.  Its 50 inland water sites, encompassing 5,000 hectares of land and water spread across Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset, attract in the region of 2m visits annually.  It is listed as being in the top 3,000 of the country’s 150,000 charities. 3,112 days of assistance by volunteers were freely given in 2011, in return training was offered in relevant skills (86 days in 2011).   SWLT involved over 90,000 people in water sports activities in 2011, including 24,400 children.  It manages large tracts of moorland and significant areas of woodland, with Forest Stewardship Council accreditation.