The inaugural North Pennines Stargazing Festival takes place from 21st October 2017 through to 30th October 2017 in celebration of the wonderful dark starry skies that can be seen across the region.
The festival includes numerous events many of which involve getting out in the darkness and exploring the night skies above. Timed to coincide with the October half-term there’s plenty of things for families to do with everything from activities for children to advanced astrophotography courses for adults. Download the official festival programme.
As the festival takes place during a new-moon period the skies will be stunningly dark with thousands more stars to be seen when compared to what can be seen from our towns and cities.
Also the annual Orionids Meteor shower takes place from 2nd October through to 7th November with the peak activity expected in the early hours of 21st October — keep your eye out for shooting stars throughout the festival period!
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a hidden gem when it comes to stargazing and this festival is a great opportunity to explore the area, both on the ground and up above!
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.
Unfortunately the 2017 shower will be a little spoiled by the moon which rises late evening — it’s moonlight drowning out any dark skies meaning only the brighter meteors will be seen. Even still it promises to be a good show presuming the weather is favourable!
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. This year there’s no advantage in travelling any great distance to a dark sky site as the moon will overcome any darkness. It’s still advantageous though to get away from light polluted areas even if only a few miles out of town.
If you’re interested in photography check this fantastic guide on how to photograph the Perseid meteors by expert astrophotographer Alyn Wallace.
The map shows recommended stargazing locations including official dark sky sites.
The following events are taking place during the peak period 11th August to 14th August.
During the Summer months of June and July an exceptional and wonderful phenomenon can be seen in our night-time skies.
Noctilucent (Latin for night shining) clouds are formed of ice crystals high up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Their extreme altitude allows the Sun’s light to reflect off them at a specific angle causing them to appear illuminated. Only at this time of year, when the Sun sets low below the horizon in the Northern hemisphere, can these clouds be readily visible on clear summer nights appearing as ghostly whispers of light shimmering in the darkness of night.
As you can see from the amazing photograph the effects are simply stunning! The image was taken by Matt Robinson of Astro Matt Photography from Roker Beach during the early hours of a summer’s morning just prior to sunrise in 2015 and won him an award from Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
To see them you’ll need to be a night-owl as they are best viewed about half an hour after sunset through to half an hour before sunrise. Look towards the North and spot them towards the horizon, the further North you are the higher they should appear in the sky. Recently they have been spotted from as far South as the South coast of England!
For more images of noctilucent clouds check Google Images.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Spending time in the countryside is one of the last few free pleasures in life, you simply can’t beat wandering through the acres of forest that our beautiful countryside provides, perhaps wandering around sculpture trails or even just enjoying the local wildlife.
From early 2017 the Forestry Commission England, who runs most of England’s forest estate, is looking to encourage day visitors to stay on after normal hours by offering some night time options. They are opening up their forests for visitors to indulge in a spot of stargazing.
In addition astronomy events are being held at forests across the country exploring the amazing world of stars and allowing everyone an after-dark adventure. We’ve listed as many of these events we can find — see our events map or event calendar to find events near you.
Go Stargazing’s very own Robert Ince is organising one of these events in support of the Forestry Commission:
At events like these, experienced astronomers will have their telescopes set up for you to look through and will be your guides, explaining what you can see and pointing things out for you.
If you don’t want to attend a managed event, why not try the ‘Why Stars Matter’ self-led trails, where you can find marked trails and information boards with fun facts about stargazing and how stars support the forests, making it the perfect after-school activity.
The Forestry Commission have also teamed up with the Met Office, so you can check out the daily cloud cover for all the participating forests, using their stargazing map. You can even submit your night sky photos into a photo competition for a chance to win £100 in Amazon vouchers (competition ends 26 March 2017).
So, why not give it a go? The forest really isn’t scary at night — tell someone where you are going and be prepared with torches, warm clothes and hot refreshments — the wow of the night sky will make up for any spooky noises…
Find out more at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/stargazing
School holidays always present a bit of a dilemma for many parents. What can you do to help keep children active and occupied? How can you get them out of the house and have a break from the games console or television? How about going one better! Get them inspired and go stargazing!
There are a surprising number of stargazing events taking place during half term across the whole of the UK and it’s therefore likely you’ll find one reasonably close to you. What’s more the vast majority of events are free of charge or inexpensive meaning you and your family can get out and about for little more than the cost of petrol.
Children just love astronomy! You might think they are not that interested however you’ll be surprised at just how much they know! It’s great fun to get out under starry skies and there’s no shortage of friendly astronomers who are more than happy to share the excitement of looking at a distant galaxy hundreds of millions of light years away through a telescope. Take a thermos of hot chocolate and wrap up warm!
Half term dates vary across the regions of the UK — the below maps show stargazing events taking place during the two weeks from 10th February through to 26th February. We hope you find an event taking place near you and will keep our fingers crossed for clear skies!
The National Parks Dark Skies Festival this year runs from the 18th to 26th February 2017.
During this period there will be numerous activities and events taking place within the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and South Downs National Parks. All events are suitable for families and therefore offer a great opportunity to get outdoors and in the fresh air!
The festival coincides with the Spring half-term period and many events are free or negligible cost. There’s plenty of opportunities to keep the kids occupied during the holidays — what better way to get them away from the TV / computer / console than going stargazing!
What’s more the festival also coincides with a new moon period. This means there is no moon in the sky at night time and the skies are at their darkest! Travelling just a little out of town and away from light pollution means you’ll be able to see thousands more stars than you can at home. Seeing the Milky Way arching across the sky from one horizon to another is a sight that will inspire anyone!
Stargazing events will have astronomers on hand to help you find your way around the sky and you’ll be invited to look through telescopes. There’s plenty of daytime activities too! With everything from rocket building, planetarium shows to making aliens and even a Deck Chair Cinema showing kid’s space movies!
Activities vary from park to park however the theme is the same — learn about our Universe and see it for yourself under the dark skies of our National Parks!
A selected handful of stargazing events from the festival appears below. You can find stargazing events close to you using our events map. For more information about the festival visit the Dark Skies Festival website.
Looking for Stargazing Live 2018? Check here…
It has been officially announced that the popular BBC Stargazing Live TV show will be on our screens once again on the 28th, 29th and 30th March 2017. This year the team will be broadcasting live from Australia.
To coincide with the television program there are a number of stargazing events held across the whole of the UK. Numerous Astronomical Societies and Observatories open their doors to the public. National Parks and local councils arrange special events. There are lots of opportunities to get outside in the great outdoors and go stargazing. It’s a fantastic experience to be under dark skies looking through telescopes whilst learning about the Universe we live in.
Go Stargazing helps people find stargazing events all year round. Our ambition is to promote Astronomy to as wide as audience as possible. We help amateur astronomers, astronomical societies and observatories raise awareness of themselves and the great things they do. You can find stargazing events taking place near you any time using our events map or calendar. You can also register to receive email notifications of stargazing events in your local area and follow us on Facebook. Please keep coming back as we are always adding new events!
The map below shows stargazing events taking place during the BBC Stargazing Live 2017 dates from 27th March through 2nd April. We will continue to add events to this map as we hear about them.
If you organise stargazing events and would like your events shown here simply send an email to [email protected] and include the website address detailing the event in your message.
The BBC have also created an official list of partner events on their Stargazing Live website.
A “Starcamp” is an organised stargazing event that takes place at a time around a new moon when the skies are nice and dark for stargazing. Such events are often based at a remote campsite or caravan park and away from light pollution.
“Starcamping” offers a means of getting away from the city lights, away from light pollution, away from the hum-drum of day-to-day life and into a world where you can be at one with our Universe, literally!
Although Starcamps take place throughout the year the best events are held from Autumn through to Spring when less daylight hours allow for more stargazing time and the cold, crisp nights mean the skies above are settled making it perfect for observing, especially through telescopes. You’ll find friendly, experienced amateur astronomers on hand and keen to share their knowledge and passion for their favourite subject.
Most of us will have to travel some distance to find a dark sky location therefore not only do Starcamps make an ideal short break the journey is made all the more worthwhile when you see the Milky Way arching over you and thousands of stars visible to the naked eye. Staying over a couple of nights increases the chances you’ll get a break in the weather.
It’s not necessary to rough it either! You’ll find campsites with pitches that have electric hook-ups for fan heaters and a warm room where you can make a cuppa. There’s often a pub nearby too!
Starcamps are social events and you’ll undoubtedly make new friends, when you call it a night just snuggle up with your partner under the extra duvet you packed in addition to your sleeping bags! 😉
Going camping at anytime when it’s likely to be chilly is not for the faint-hearted, however, for the more adventurous amongst you this is perhaps the best way of experiencing stargazing and such efforts are often incredibly rewarding!
AstroCamp - Spring 2019 – 27/04/2019 - 30/04/2020
AstroCamp - Autumn 2019 – 21/09/2019 - 24/09/2019
Kelling Heath Star Party - Autumn 2019 – 23/09/2019 - 30/09/2019
Solarsphere Astronomical & Music Festival 2019 – 09/10/2019 - 12/10/2019
Kielder Forest Star Camp - Autumn 2019 – 30/10/2019 - 04/11/2019
AstroCamp - Spring 2020 – 25/04/2020 - 28/04/2020
AstroCamp - Autumn 2020 – 19/09/2020 - 22/09/2020
Welcome to Go Stargazing!
Thank you for visiting our website which we have created to help you find stargazing events and locations near you.
As a group of enthusiastic astronomers we enjoy sharing our hobby with members of the public and frequently help with stargazing events across the North of England. From experience we know how difficult it is to tell people about these events and how challenging it can be for event organisers to promote them — currently there is nowhere that people can go to find out about them — this lead us to the idea of creating “Go Stargazing”.
You will find that the vast majority of stargazing events on this website are run by Astronomical Societies, these offer fantastic opportunities to meet friendly, like minded people, to get help and advice or to try looking through a telescope for the very first time! They always welcome members of the public and often attending their meetings or observing sessions is free of charge or cost only a small donation.
There are also a number of observatories across the UK that open their doors to the public, again often for free or minimal fee. Children love looking through telescopes and it can be a great way of getting them outdoors!
Why not get out there and go stargazing yourself! Light pollution in the UK restricts our views of the skies however there are some great places to go and see the Milky Way… Dark Sky Discovery sites are dotted around the country and are official places where you can go to stargaze without fear of being moved on by the police! The UK is now home to a number of Dark Sky Parks & Reserves which are areas noted for their dark skies and given special protection from the advance of light pollution from towns and cities.
If you are heading to somewhere remote be sure to check our dark sky calendar to make sure the affects of natural light pollution from sunlight and moonlight don’t affect your views of the heavens.
Whatever you choose to do we hope you have a great time!
The Go Stargazing Team