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Dark Skies Festival

Milky Way and Perseid Meteor shower Sutton Bank (c) Russ Norman PhotographyMilky Way and Perseid Meteor shower Sutton Bank (c) Russ Norman Photography

Monday 15 – Sunday 21 February 2016

The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales are a stargazer’s paradise. We have some of the best night skies in the country. In an urban area you will be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night, but in an area of low light pollution, such as our National Parks, you could see as many as 2,000. To celebrate we're having a festival here, and in the Dales too!

Learn more about the magic above us on family-friendly activities right across the North York Moors including:

  • Night Vision using the latest infra-red technology
  • Open telescope sessions
  • Wildlife walks and stargazing
  • Astronomy talks and trails
  • A solar system scavenger hunt
  • Telescope-making, rocket building and other crafty activities

Bookings and information

Advance bookings and payment are essential for many of the festival events, unless stated as a drop-in event. Booking details are included under each individual event below. Please note:

  • Children are welcome at most events but minimum ages may apply.
  • Dogs are allowed at some events, but must be kept on a short fixed lead at all times.
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear is essential. Wrap up warm especially for evening outdoor activities! A torch could be useful too.

Festival schedule - North York Moors


Saturday 13 – Sunday 21 February

Dark Skies Activity Trail and Craft Activities
Join the Forestry Commission at the Dalby Space Centre and head out on their self-led trail to discover more about the solar system and mythology of the planets. For younger astronauts, there’s a chance to build a straw rocket too. All children to be accompanied by an adult. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on the self-led trail.
Cost: A small charge will apply for each activity.
Time: 10am to 4pm (drop in any time)
Location: Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, Low Dalby, near Thornton le Dale YO18 7LT

Dark Skies Children’s Activity Trails and Craft Activities
Search the grounds on our self-led trail to find the dark sky constellations. Gather the answers to the questions and discover the myths and legends behind some of our most famous star formations. Will you be successful in claiming your prize? They'll also be dark skies craft activities at Sutton Bank all week including a chance to build a dark sky picture on the giant 'dark skies' board. All children to be accompanied by an adult. Dogs on leads welcome on the outdoor trails. 
Cost: Adult: free; Child £3 (including prize).
Time: 11am – 4pm (drop in any time)
Locations: Sutton Bank National Park Centre (YO7 2EH) and The Moors National Park Centre, Danby (YO21 2NB)

Monday 15 February

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons (evening event)
Join Hidden Horizons for a night of stargazing under the dark coastal skies of the North York Moors. View the Moon, planets and deep sky objects through telescopes, and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks. This three-hour fun evening event with expert astronomer Andy Exton is suitable for all the family. Sorry, no dogs.
Cost: Adult: £10; Child £7
Online booking: For further information and online booking, please visit Hidden Horizon's Eventbrite webpage. Book early as these are small grouped sessions. FULLY BOOKED
Location: Ravenscar 

Tuesday 16 February

Dark Skies/Make your own Telescope
Discover how to become an expert stargazer – learn all about the stars and make your own telescope to take home. Suitable for children aged 6 and above; children must be accompanied by an adult. Sorry, no dogs.
Cost: Adult: Free; Child: £4
Time: 11am  – 3pm (drop in any time)
Location: Sutton Bank National Park Centre YO7 2EH

Rocket Builders and Launch Pad!
A drop in crafting session for children to build and launch a rocket. Hot chocolate and crazy themed buns provided! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Well-behaved dogs welcome.
Cost: Adult: Free; Child £2
Time: 12 noon – 2pm (drop in any time)
Location: YHA Boggle Hole, YO22 4UQ

Night Vision with Forest Ranger Gareth Dockerty (evening event)
Experience the North York Moors National Park forest, meadows and moorland in the dark from Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins. Use the latest infra-red technology to look across the meadows towards the moors. Will you see native Roe deer grazing peacefully at night? Or hear the famous “twit-twoo” of the Tawny owl or perhaps the restless pheasants as they roost in the trees. Find out about the site’s history and heritage then learn to think like a deer as you take in the dark forest at night. Navigate via the Pole star and take in the National Park’s dark sky display as the stars shine down. Suitable for children aged 10 and over and adults. Sorry, no dogs. 
Cost: Adult: £10 Child: £10
Booking: Booking essential. For information and bookings, call the Forest Retreat 01751 417510.
Time: 5.30pm start 
Location: Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins YO18 8HW

Open Telescope Session (evening event)
Join the YHA for a peek at the stars through telescopes from the glorious beach at Boggle Hole. Perfect for children, though adults are welcome, and hot chocolate and crazy themed buns will be provided! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Well-behaved dogs welcome.
Cost: Adult: Free; Child Free
Time: 6pm – 8pm (drop in any time)
Location: YHA Boggle Hole YO22 4UQ

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons (evening event)
Join Hidden Horizons for a night of stargazing under the dark coastal skies of the North York Moors. View the Moon, planets and deep sky objects through telescopes, and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks. This three-hour fun evening event with expert astronomer Andy Exton is suitable for all the family. Sorry, no dogs.
Cost: Adult: £10; Child £7
Online booking: For further information and online booking, please visit Hidden Horizon's Eventbrite webpage. Book early as these are small grouped sessions. FULLY BOOKED
Location: Ravenscar

Wednesday 17 February

Night Sky Workshop
What is a star? Do you know your constellations and why they change with the seasons? Join our friends at Fun Science for a family fun workshop where you can learn all about our night sky with craft activities, go on a solar system scavenger hunt, create a universe in a box and find out just how big the universe is. Suitable for children aged 5 and above; children must be accompanied by an adult. Sorry, no dogs. Not accessible by wheelchair.
Cost: Adult: Free Child: £5 
Booking: Booking essential. For information and bookings call 01439 772738.
Time: There are two separate sessions: 10:30am – 12 noon and 1:30pm – 3pm
Location:
The Moors National Park Centre, Danby YO21 2NB

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons (evening event)
Join Hidden Horizons for a night of stargazing under the dark coastal skies of the North York Moors. View the Moon, planets and deep sky objects through telescopes, and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks. This three-hour fun evening event with expert astronomer Andy Exton is suitable for all the family. Sorry, no dogs.
Cost: Adult: £10; Child £7
Online booking: For further information and online booking, please visit Hidden Horizon's Eventbrite webpage. Book early as these are small grouped sessions. FULLY BOOKED
Location: Ravenscar

Thursday 18 February

Rocket Builders and Launch Pad!
A drop in crafting session for children to build and launch a rocket. Hot chocolate and crazy themed buns provided! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Well-behaved dogs welcome.
Cost: Adult: Free; Child £2
Time: 12 noon – 2pm (drop in any time)
Location: YHA Boggle Hole YO22 4UQ

Open Telescope Session (evening event)
Join the YHA for a peek at the stars through telescopes from the glorious beach at Boggle Hole. Perfect for children, though adults are welcome, and hot chocolate and crazy themed buns will be provided! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Well-behaved dogs welcome.
Cost: Adult: Free; Child Free
Time: 6pm – 8pm (drop in any time)
Location: YHA Boggle Hole YO22 4UQ

Friday 19 February

Brown Dwarfs with Dr Stuart Littlefair (evening talk)
Guest lecturer for the Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society (SARAS). Brown Dwarfs are the X-Factor hopefuls of the universe – they just haven’t got what it takes to become a star. Amazingly the existence of Brown Dwarfs was only confirmed in 1995 and we still have a lot to learn about them. Dr Stuart Littlefair is a lecturer at Sheffield University who specialises in researching things that are bigger than planets but smaller than stars. Who better to unravel the mysteries of the coolest stars we will ever encounter? For more information, go to the SARAS event page.
Cost: Free for SARAS members. £3 for non-members payable on the door.
Time: 7:45pm – 9:30pm 
Location: Ayton Village Hall, Wilson's Lane, East Ayton, Scarborough YO13 9HY

Saturday 20 February

Night Vision with Forest Ranger Gareth Dockerty (evening event)
Experience the North York Moors National Park forest, meadows and moorland in the dark from Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins. Use the latest infra-red technology to look across the meadows towards the moors. Will you see native Roe deer grazing peacefully at night? Or hear the famous “twit-twoo” of the Tawny owl or perhaps the restless pheasants as they roost in the trees. Find out about the site’s history and heritage then learn to think like a deer as you take in the dark forest at night. Navigate via the Pole star and take in the National Park’s dark sky display as the stars shine down. Suitable for children aged 10 and over and adults. Sorry, no dogs. 
Cost: Adult: £10 Child: £10
Booking: Booking essential. For information and bookings, call the Forest Retreat 01751 417510.
Time: 5.30pm start 
Location: Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins YO18 8HW

Star Party (evening event)
Super stargazing with Whitby and District Astronomical Society. Illustrated talks, expert advice, craft activities and telescope-making. Suitable for all the family; children must be accompanied by an adult. Sorry, no dogs. Not accessible by wheelchair.
Cost: Adult: £3 Child: £6 
Booking: Booking essential. For information and bookings call 01439 772738.
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Location:
The Moors National Park Centre, Danby YO21 2NB

Eyes in the dark and bright stars (evening event)
Join the National Trust for a family-friendly nature night walk and stargazing, with the experts on hand from York Astronomical Society. Discover more about the wildlife that live in the woodland and enjoy story-telling. Refreshments and telescopes provided. Sorry no dogs.
Cost: Adult: £5 Child: £3
Booking:
 Booking essential. For further information, go to the National Trust website or call 01439 748283 to make a booking.
Time: 7pm – 9pm 
Location: Rievaulx Terrace, near Helmsley YO62 5LJ

Festival schedule - Yorkshire Dales


The full festival schedule for events in the Yorkshire Dales is available here.