The second North Pennines Stargazing Festival takes place between 20th October 2018 and 4th November 2018.
With a variety of events taking place the festival is a celebration of the fantastic dark skies above the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers plenty of opportunities to stargaze.
The festival kicks off with a presentation by the wonderful Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE of “Sky at Night” fame and includes events suitable for all ages and abilities. Scheduled to take place during the half-term period also enables younger astronomers to participate! Why not book on several events and make a short break of it!?
We’ve featured below those events that incorporate some element of stargazing or observing — for a full list of events visit the official page on the North Pennines AONB website.
The Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2018 takes place between 20th October 2018 and 4th November 2018. A wide variety of astronomically themed events are scheduled including everything from space-movies through to astrophotography tuition and public stargazing. Many events take place during half-term and are thus perfect for families with space-interested children!
The festival also celebrates the wonderful dark skies above Exmoor which lead it to becoming recognised by the International Dark Sky Association as Europe’s very first Dark Sky Reserve in Autumn 2011.
Below we have featured those events that include stargazing — for a full event listing and further details visit the official page at Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2018.
The annual Perseids meteor shower is possibly the most eagerly anticipated by astronomers. For several years now the Perseids have resulted in a great show with dozens of bright meteors being spotted per hour around the peak of their activity.
Each year as the Earth travels on its orbit around the Sun it encounters a vast swathe of cosmic dust left over by the comet Swift-Tuttle. As these tiny dust particles enter Earth’s atmosphere at great speed they burn up leaving a brief but bright trail — a shooting star!
Perseid meteors can be identified as they appear to radiate from the constellation of Perseus, hence their name. The shower takes place each year from July 14th through to August 24th with the peak in meteor numbers (the time when the Earth passes through the densest of the dust) on the evening of August 12th / morning of August 13th. The very best time to see them is the early hours of August 13th.
This year’s peak of the shower takes place during a new moon period and therefore with no moonlight illuminating the sky more of the fainter meteors will be visible.
For the best place to see the Perseids meteor shower the most important requirement is a wide open space where you can see as much of the sky as possible. If you can get away from local light pollution even better and finding a dark sky site will be well worthwhile. Even travelling only a few miles out of town would be advantageous.
If you’re interested in photography check this fantastic guide on how to photograph the Perseid meteors by expert astrophotographer Alyn Wallace.
For suggestions of where you might go to see the Perseids see our Location Map.
The following events are taking place during the peak period 11th August to 14th August.
Friday 27th July 2018 is set to be an awesome date for astronomy with a number of astronomical events taking place during the evening and throughout the course of the night including the appearance of a “blood moon”, three awesome planets to observe through a telescope and a bright pass of the International Space Station. We detail these events below, how best you can see each of them and where you might go if you’d like to join an official event run by astronomers. For further updates and notifications follow us on Facebook…
The full moon will rise during the evening appearing a dull red colour due to it being eclipsed by Earth’s shadow (umbra), an event also known as a “blood moon”… Due to it being summertime the skies will not be very dark at the time of the eclipse which will make the blood moon appear fainter however it’s still likely to be an awesome spectacle and well worth looking out for, such opportunities do not come along that often!
The time that the moon rises depends slightly on your location in the United Kingdom with observers in the South of England seeing the moon rise approximately 20 minutes before those in the North of England. All times below are given in British Summer Time.
South of England times:
20:50pm the full moon begins to rise from the South East appearing red in colour
21:21pm is the time of maximum eclipse when the moon will appear at it’s deepest red
22:13pm total eclipse ends moon starts to lose it’s red colour
North of England times:
21:10pm the full moon begins to rise from the South East appearing red in colour
21:41pm is the time of maximum eclipse when the moon will appear at it’s deepest red. 22:33pm total eclipse ends moon starts to lose it’s red colour
It’s well worth making plans in advance as to where you might see this from. The best locations are those with a clear South Easterly horizon without trees or buildings in the way so that you can see the moon as soon as it rises, perhaps up on a hill or anywhere along the East coast. Photographers might consider having terrestrial objects in view (e.g. buildings, trees, people) which will make the sight even more impressive due to the moon illusion.
Once the moon starts losing its red colour and as the skies begin to darken the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will become visible towards the South, all of which are well worth observing if you have a telescope. See the cloud bands on Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and the polar ice caps on Mars!
The planet Mars reaches “opposition” in the early hours of the 27th July, this the time when it is directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth and therefore at its brightest. This means that during early hours of the 28th July the planet will be incredibly bright and thus makes for a great opportunity to observe Mars — the best time being 01:15am when it reaches its highest point in the sky due South.
Also on Friday 27th July 2018 the space station will be making a bright pass over the UK. The graphic below shows the path it will take across the sky as a white line (as seen from North East England) with the space station passing by the bright star Altair just seconds after 23:00 — note that the further South you are the higher in the sky it will be — use one of the many mobile apps to find out its exact path from where you are.
The map shows stargazing events that are taking place on the evening of the “blood moon” lunar eclipse.
Located at the heart of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park The Redesdale Arms is the perfect place to explore star-filled skies. Being away from light pollution during new moon means the skies are at their very darkest with the Milky Way easily visible arching overhead and thousands of stars to be seen with the naked eye alone. A truly stunning sight!
You’ll be spending the weekend with experienced astronomers who will take you on a tour of the constellations and locate fascinating deep space objects to observe using large aperture telescopes. There’ll be various astronomical-themed activities and presentations too…
This event takes place on Friday 6th April 2018 and Saturday 7th April 2018 with the prize including overnight bed and breakfast both of these nights for up to two people sharing one twin or one double room, a prize in total worth £240.00! All rooms are en-suite with spectacular views over the Rede Valley. You can expect the very warmest of welcomes from proprietor Carrol and her team along with great food and friendly company amongst fellow stargazers.
You can also attend this weekend stargazing event by booking via The Redesdale Arms directly. Both evenings are also open to the public at a cost of £10.00 per person for stargazing only. For more details and bookings contact The Redesdale Arms on 01830 520668.
Entry to this competition closed on 5th March 2018 @ 12:00 midday… Thank you to all of you who entered! If you’d like to attend the stargazing event you can book directly with the Redesdale Arms.
– The prize is overnight accommodation (bed and breakfast) for two nights (6th and 7th April 2018) for up to two people in either a twin or double room at the Redesdale Arms, Northumberland and includes all stargazing activities
– The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 and over
– all entries have been recorded in this Facebook post
– Closing date for entries is Monday 5th March at 12:00 midday
– One entry per person (duplicate entries will be removed)
– The winner will be chosen at random and announced on the Go Stargazing Facebook Page and via Facebook message within 24 hours of the competition closing
– The promoter is Go Stargazing, Darlington in association with the Redesdale Arms, Northumberland
– By participating in this prize draw entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
The popular TV programme BBC Stargazing Live 2018 is unfortunately not taking place this year, as confirmed by Dara O’Briain on Twitter. The show, along with the numerous associated stargazing events that take place to coincide with it, will be very much missed by stargazing enthusiasts.
The Go Stargazing Team supported the TV show in 2017 using our website as a resource to help interested people find their nearest stargazing event and we were really looking forward to doing the same in 2018! After all, encouraging people to go stargazing is what we do all year round!
So to fill the gap in 2018 we’ve decided to organise “Go Stargazing Live 2018” — a weekend of public stargazing events taking place across the UK. We’ve chosen dates around the 16th and 17th February as the evening skies will be dark and it coincides with the National Parks Dark Skies Festival 2018 with lots of activities taking place.
Note that this event is not associated with nor endorsed by the BBC.
As can be seen on the map below there’s loads of events happening during this period! So whilst Dara and Professor Cox have some time off we’ll still go stargazing!
For this to be successful we need your help… Please help spread the word by sharing this webpage on Social Media or sharing our event on Facebook. If you are organising your own stargazing event on these dates simply contact us and we’ll happily add it to the schedule.
Thank you for your support… Clear skies!
The 3rd annual National Parks Dark Skies Festival this year runs from the 9th to 25th February 2018.
The festival celebrates the wonderful dark skies that can be seen across a number of regions across our country including the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, South Downs and (new for this year) Northumberland national parks. During the festival numerous astronomy related activities take place, ranging from night time walks with Forest Rangers to stargazing evenings with experienced astronomers, all of which can be enjoyed by families, amateur astronomers of any level and even more experienced stargazers! The festival also includes a number of daytime events for children to take part in over the half term holidays.
Below we’ve listed a selection of stargazing events we know are taking place — check back frequently as more events will be added as they are scheduled — even better sign up to receive email notifications…
For more information about the festival including a comprehensive list of all of the different events taking place visit the official Dark Skies Festival website. A complete list of events for the South Downs is available on their site.
This year’s Geminid meteor shower takes place from 4th December to the 16th December with peak activity on the evening of the 13th December through to the morning of 14th December. During the peak up to 120 meteors per hour might be seen with the best time to see them being from midnight through to dawn.
Named after the constellation Gemini from which the meteors appear to radiate this meteor shower is slightly different to others that occur throughout the year. Most meteor showers are caused by dust particles from comets burning up in the atmosphere, however in the case of the Geminids it’s caused by the debris from an asteroid named “3200 Phaethon”. Geminids are renowned for their bright display and sometimes appear as green flashes due to the material they are made of.
Peak activity coincides with a waning crescent moon meaning the moon’s natural light pollution should not affect observing. Darker skies mean more meteors might be seen and therefore it’s worthwhile travelling to a dark sky site to get away from man-made light pollution.
Hours of darkness on 13th December –
As always wherever you choose to go first tell someone where you are going, wrap up warm, take some hot drinks and be patient! Good luck spotting them!
The Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2017 takes place between 19th and 29th October 2017. It features numerous astronomically themed events including everything from space-movies through to astrophotography tuition and public stargazing. Many of the events take place during half-term and are perfect for families with space-interested children!
The festival celebrates the wonderful dark skies above Exmoor which lead it to becoming recognised by the International Dark Sky Association as Europe’s very first Dark Sky Reserve in Autumn 2011.
Below we have specifically featured the stargazing events taking place however there’s much more going on — for further details visit the official page Exmoor National Park Dark Skies Festival 2017.
The annual Orionid meteor shower takes place from 2nd October through to 7th November. Peak activity occurs on the evening of 20th October and the early hours of the 21st October when approximately 20 meteors per hour might be seen —
the best time being from midnight through to dawn. (main image credit: SLOOH)
The meteors (or shooting stars) are caused from the dust trail left over by Halley’s comet. As the dust particles enter Earth’s atmosphere at speed they burn up through friction with their energy being converted from mass into light. They are named the Orionids after the part of the sky they seem to originate from, or the “radiant”, in this case the constellation of Orion.
Image credit: Sky and Telescope
To make things even better the peak of the shower this year takes place at new moon. The skies will be free from moonlight and darkness will allow any fainter shooting stars to be spotted. It’s therefore well worthwhile planning ahead and travelling to a dark sky location to escape light pollution.
Hours of darkness on 20th October –
Wherever you choose to go first tell someone where you are going, wrap up warm, take some hot drinks and snacks and be patient! Good luck spotting them! We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed the weather is favourable for you!