Are you curious about space, would you like to know more about star gazing or discover more about nocturnal animals? This year’s Dark Skies Festival is going virtual to help you explore all these things and more, from the safety of your home.
Whether it’s discovering how bats use echoes to find their prey; posing questions to an astronomer whilst watching live pictures of the moon; or being amazed at an astronaut’s life during a space mission, this year’s Virtual Dark Skies Festival promises something for everyone.
This year’s festival will take place from 12th to 28th February 2021. The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, together with Go Stargazing, will be bringing you a line-up of experts including astronomers, professors, researchers and astro-photographers.
The Virtual Dark Skies Festival
Nature at Night is the theme to this year’s festival. Events will be aiming to highlight why darkness is so important to our nation’s wildlife.
Hear mind-boggling facts from Dean Waters of the University of York. Waters will be sharing with you some of the ingenious ways that animals have adapted to the darkness. Find out about bats’ echolocation calls or the crazy asymmetric ears of owls.
Not a fan of moths? See them in a new light as Dr Callum MacGregor of the University of Hull shows you the important contribution moths make to the ecosystem by nocturnally pollinating plants. Alternatively, tune into wildlife artist Robert Fuller’s live webcam footage of owls and stoats.
Are you a budding astronaut or eager to discover more about space and the cosmos? Then tune into some of the fascinating festival sessions. Professor Carole Haswell, Head of Astronomy at the Open University, will be talking about Planet Discoveries inspired by Star Trek. The talk will delve into the work being done to discover distant exoplanets and the likelihood of finding life on them.
Family friendly events
Looking for events to entertain the little ones? Orla the Alien, who landed in the North York Moors last summer, has now been joined by a number of extra-terrestrial friends that families can adopt. Just contact the National Park before 5th February. Then you can help the kids complete the aliens’ mission to find out about life on Earth.
Children will be captivated by the Space Detectives as they go on a tour of the night sky. And Colin Stuart, astronomy presenter and children’s author, will whisk you away on a mission to discover the red planet. Join him on the journey to Mars and learn more about life as an astronaut during the seven-month voyage.
A chance to go stargazing
Go Stargazing will also focus on Mars with a presentation on NASA’s landing of the Perseverance Rover. The rover is a minivan-sized robot, due to land on the planet. And depending on the timing, there’ll hopefully be a livestream of the historic moment as it unfolds.
From 18th February, a team of astronomers across Britain are hoping to relay live pictures of the moon, via the Go Stargazing Facebook page. More of the lunar landscape will become visible each night as it moves towards its full phase. Weather permitting of course!
And finally, for those interested in night photography, join Paul Clark’s Swaledale Starscapes session. Clark will share the beautiful images he’s captured over the years. You can also get to grips with the techniques of astro and nightscape image-taking by picking up tips from specialists Pete Collins and Gary Lintern.
You can find more online events to keep you entertained, here.
When: 12th – 28th February 2021
£: Free, some events may have a small fee and need to be booked in advance
More info: www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk