While 2020 is being trumpeted as the year that space travel becomes a reality, the fifth Dark Skies Festival, held jointly by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, will show just how much visitors can enjoy the cosmos without leaving planet Earth.
The 17-day Festival which coincides with the February half term holidays, will comprise more than 100 events including virtual space travel courtesy of pop-up planetariums, stargazing safaris using powerful telescopes, after-dark runs and bike rides as well as talks and crafting sessions that fire the imagination.
New events in the 2020 Festival include an evening with renowned astronomy professor Andy Newsam who will reveal how next-generation telescope technology will revolutionise how people can explore the universe from the comfort of their own home.
Other new events will capitalise on how the darkness of the National Parks’ skies, as a result of low light pollution, can be harnessed as a kind of natural health service.
For instance Adventures for the Soul will be staging yoga and mindfulness sessions at Great Fryup Dale in the North York Moors before leading people on a guided night walk into the peaceful countryside to increase a feeling of calmness and being in-tune with the body’s senses.
The less intense lunar light associated with the appearance of a New Moon in late February will give the stars more chance to shine through and coincide with a plethora of new spots being used for stargazing sessions during the Festival. These include evenings at the remotely beautiful Blakey Ridge above Rosedale where visitors can enjoy a safari across the night sky with an astronomer pointing out the galaxies and constellations.
Those wanting to enjoy the thrill of being out in the countryside after dark can hone their night navigation skills or enjoy running or cycling under a canopy of stars following guides along the network of trails criss-crossing the National Parks.
There will also be plenty of interest for youngsters including following a planet trail in scenic Yorkshire Dales countryside through to making rockets and pom pom planets.
The ever-popular night photography courses; gaze and graze evenings (astronomy and dining while looking out at the night sky); nocturnal wildlife sessions and opportunities to see how artists interpret the dark skies, will also feature once again in the Festival.
14 February - 1 March
Location: Various locations across both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks
Pricing: various – see website for individual pricing details.
See www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk for more information and full programme