With the North York Moors Dark Skies Festival underway, here are some of our top picks for the next two weeks…
STARGAZING VALENTINE’S SPECIAL
MIDDLETON HALL, PICKERING
THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL
If you’re looking for a luxury Valentine’s weekend treat, why not settle down in a cosy cottage with a log fire, complete with all the stargazing implements you’ll need? There are three cottages on offer, which are available for up to four guests for three nights at a time, all of which have large windows that’ll allow you to take in the starry sky while staying warm indoors. Plus, guests will receive a special valentines gift hamper on arrival.
STARS IN THE SKY
NATIONAL TRUST RAVENSCAR VISITOR CENTRE
This is one of a number of events on the very first day of the festival. Taking place at the National Trust’s Ravenscar Visitor Centre, located on the Yorkshire coast between Scarborough and Whitby, this is a free family-friendly stargazing event, from 7:30pm – 9:30pm, giving you plenty of chance to observe the stars and planets filling the sky. Wrap up warm, bring a torch and enjoy the stunning night sky with the whole family. The event is free to attend, but advanced booking is required.
DARK SKIES WALK AT LASTINGHAM
14, 20, 22, 24 & 29 FEBRUARY
Lastingham is a charming village with great access to the wide-open North York Moors and therefore is an ideal place to go for a walk and see the starry skies. The walk takes in the short distance from Lastingham to the moors, then links up as a North York Moors circuit with several stops to take in the sky and listen out for local wildlife, before heading back to the Blacksmiths Arms for a pint.
GO APE… IN THE DARK
14, 15, 22 & 29 FEBRUARY
Calling all thrill-seekers! Nothing will satisfy your adrenaline itch like night-time zip-wire flights through the treetops of Dalby Forest. This Dark Skies experience is sure to get your heart racing and provide an entirely unique way to experience the starry skies. Don’t miss it this February.
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY GHOST WALK
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY
15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 26 & 29 FEBRUARY
Stroll through the quaint streets of Robin Hood’s Bay as a guide recounts intriguing tales of the Bay’s history of smugglers, shipwrecks and ghost stories. The walk lasts for just over an hour and is suitable for the whole family, with no booking required – just turn up at the slipway in the dock outside of the National Trust’s Old Coastguard Station in Robin Hood’s Bay. The walk costs £6 per adult and £3 per child under 12. Well-behaved pooches are also welcome.
NOCTURNAL ADVENTURE AT CROPTON
CROPTON CABINS, MOOR LANE
16, 19, 23 & 26 FEBRUARY
Adventure-seekers should head to Cropton and explore the forest at night, with expert guidance from a forest ranger. The aim of this expedition is to try and catch a glimpse of the local wildlife in their natural habitat – using patience, stealth and night vision equipment. Make a break of it and stay in one of the luxury self-catering woodland cabins nearby. The perfect family staycation in the beautiful North York Moors.
CHRIS LINTOTT: THE CROWD & THE COSMOS – ADVENTURES IN THE ZOONIVERSE
HELMSLEY ARTS CENTRE
This talk by BBC Sky at Night’s Chris Lintott will discuss the massive amounts of data modern telescopes are producing for astronomers and how you can get involved in sorting out galaxies, hunting for planets around other stars and counting penguins. Touching on the cutting-edge of modern science, while also discussing the down-to-earth ramifications, this talk is a must for fans of Sky at Night.
NIGHT TIME PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
CASTLE HOWARD ESTATE
21 & 23 FEBRUARY
Always wanted to learn how to take great dark sky photos? Head to Castle Howard and learn some techniques from Steve Bell, a specialist dark skies and landscape photographer who’s worked with the BBC’s National History Unit in the past, as well as being commissioned by National Parks. The workshop will include an insightful talk, followed by a tea/coffee break and a photography session in Castle Howard’s stunning grounds.
YOGA, DARK SKIES & MINDFULNESS
YORKSHIRE CYCLE HUB, GREAT FRYUP DALE
A feel-good yoga session, taking in the great outdoors and focusing on mindfulness. The session will invite yogis to revitalise and reconnect with nature under the guidance of tutors from Adventures For the Soul, before taking a walk under the new moon.
STARGAZING WITH PROFESSOR CAROLE HASWELL
HUNLEY HOTEL & GOLF CLUB, SALTBURN-BY-THE-SEA
This special event is includes an educational talk by Professor Carole Haswell, who is Head of Astronomy at The Open University and grew up in Saltburn. The event will also include moon rock and meteor handling, plus remote telescope demonstrations from Open University experts, followed by a Q&A session with Professor Haswell and a talk by Heidi Thiemann, a finalist for the ‘Rising Star’ award at the Everywoman in Technology Awards, and will finish with a stargazing and moonlight experience.