Plans take shape for 2020 Dark Skies Festival

Milky Way over Pen-y-ghent. Photo: Pete Collins.

An evening with BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott will be one of the hot tickets during the 2020 Dark Skies Festival.

The event will run from 14 February to 1 March and will be held jointly by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.

The presenter will be talking about his new book The Crowd and the Cosmos – Adventures in the Zooniverse and showing how, through the power of ‘citizen science’, anybody can get involved with helping scientists make the next space discoveries.

An evening with Chris Lintott takes place on 21 February at Helmsley Arts Centre, midway through the 17-day annual Festival which showcases the night skies of both national parks and the neighbouring areas of outstanding natural beauty in Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills.

Alongside the perennial favourites – everything from stargazing, astrophotography, canoeing, running, cycling, walking, caving, night zip wire and nocturnal wildlife spotting evenings – there are a number of new events across the Yorkshire Dales for the 2020 Dark Skies Festival.

For instance, expert astronomer Richard Darn will be leading visitors on a tour of the universe during a star party in the peaceful village of Keld, in Upper Swaledale while a dark skies evening at the new Wensleydale ice cream parlour at Hardbanks Barn will also include the chance to tuck into specially-created starry ice cream flavours.

Following the popularity of its stargazing nights at this year’s festival, Britain’s highest pub Tan Hill will again be staging a series of events, while Little Seed Farm in Ripon joins in the fun for the first time offering guests a Star Glamp which includes a stay in the cabins, supper and an evening in the company of astronomers from Go Stargazing.

Building on the popularity of the night time canoeing at Scar House Reservoir in Nidderdale, the 2020 Festival will now offer visitors the opportunity to also paddle across Semerwater in the Dales.

Similarly the popularity of hurtling into the darkness attached to Go Ape’s zip wire in the North York Moors has led to Low Mill Outdoor Centre in Askrigg setting up its own version of the experience for the Yorkshire Dales.

Creating an air of wonderment to help inspire the next generation will be a recurring theme threading through much of the festival’s programme.

Youngsters can go on a tour of the solar system at Lime Tree Observatory at Grewelthorpe; learn more about the animals that live under the Yorkshire Dales starry skies during a Go Wild! event at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes or follow a 1.3-mile planet trail on the Ingleborough Estate.

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