Next month’s Dark Skies Festival will see the first public screening in the UK of a thought provoking documentary highlighting the enormous impact of light pollution on the world’s population, wildlife and the environment.
Saving the Dark was first released in America in 2018 and will be shown at five exclusive screenings in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks during the 17-day Dark Skies Festival, which runs from February 15 to march 3.
The documentary which is backed by the International Dark Sky Association has been credited with drawing attention to the impact of excessive and improper lighting which not only robs people of the night skies but disrupts sleep patterns and endangers nocturnal habitats.
According to the film maker, 80 per cent of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way.
The film will complement the many other new events happening at this year’s festival at venues right across both National Parks and the Howardian Hills and Nidderdale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Elsewhere, the Garden Rooms at Tennants in Leyburn will have a planetarium virtual tour of the night sky on February 24.
With another Supermoon expected in February, Simonstone Hall near Hawes and Brymor are laying on special evenings that will include moon-gazing with the help of powerful telescopes and even a specially-created Dark Skies Galaxy Delight ice cream.
The highest pub in Britain, Tan Hill Inn will be holding its first starcamp, with a full weekend of stargazing March 1 to 3, while Stump Cross Caverns near Pateley Bridge will be hosting a star party with the help of expert astronomer Richard Darn who will lead visitors on a star safari.
Activity seekers can enjoy moonlit and starry skies by canoeing or cycling at Scar House Reservoir near Pateley Bridge or competing in an off-road bike race in Swaledale with three different routes to suit everybody from youngsters through to Lunar Lunatics.
Alternatively local guides and an amateur astronomer are joining forces for a guided night walk at Grimwith Reservoir that will be accessible to all.
Alongside the many space-themed crafting sessions youngsters will also be well catered for with Forest School events being held for the first time at Semerwater and Toft Gate Lime Kiln near Pateley Bridge; and a storytelling session with Rhoda Fraser at Berry’s Farm Shop near Leyburn.
A woodland lantern procession at Freeholders’ Wood, Aysgarth and a pizza planet party in Hawes all add to the entertainment.
Budding photographers can hone night-time skills at stunning locations such as a waterfall at West Burton, Scar House Reservoir and Pateley Bridge.
Each National Park has three Dark Sky Discovery locations where skies are sufficiently dark to potentially view the Milky Way with the naked eye. The North York Moors sites are at The Moors National Park Centre at Danby, Sutton Bank and Dalby Forest.
The Yorkshire Dales Dark Sky Discovery locations are at Hawes, Malham and Buckden while Nidderdale AONB has four newly-designated sites at Scar House, Thruscross and Fewston Reservoirs and Toft Gate Lime Kiln.
Saving the Dark will be screened at various venues including Brymor and Tan Hill.
Programme information and booking details can be found on www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk. A number of events will be free while others will have a small charge attached.