Stargazing and planet-spotting on offer in Nidderdale as part of Dark Skies Festival
Last updated Jan 12, 2024
Lime Tree Observatory. Picture: Martin Whipp

Two Nidderdale attractions are set to offer special stargazing and planet-spotting evenings as part of the National Parks Dark Skies Festival next month.

The festival celebrates the darkness over the country’s national parks and aims to educate people on the stars above.

Stumps Cross Caverns near Pateley Bridge is among those taking part.

It will be holding cave tours throughout the festival, which explain how underground caves are used to train astronauts. Visitors will also be able to use on-site telescopes to see the stars.

There will also be a stargazing evening on February 16, which will include a presentation on how to spot celestial bodies in the sky and how to preserve the dark skies.

The event is for people aged five and above. Tickets start at £5.

Lime Tree Observatory, Grewelthorpe

The Lime Tree Observatory in Grewelthorpe, near Masham, will also be opening its doors – as well as the ceiling of its observatory – during the festival.

A Guide to the Heavens will be a family-friendly tour of the solar system, whereby people can learn all about planets, moons and stars in the planetarium.

In addition, people can also look forward to using the telescopes to view the stars and the sky. However, organisers did say this part of the evening is weather-dependent.

The event will take place over four evenings: Monday, February 12, Tuesday, February 13, Thursday, February 15 and Friday, February 16.

It will run from 6pm – 8pm.

Tickets, which cost £12, will be available to buy from Saturday, January 13.

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The National Parks Dark Skies festival covers four protected landscapes: the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale National Landscape  and the Howardian Hills National Landscape.

For those a little further afield, there is also a starry night watercolour workshop in Helmsley, a guided walking tour of Rievaulx Abbey and a dark skies-themed trail at Sutton Bank.

Derek Twine, member champion for promoting understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said:

“While enjoyment and discovery are at the heart of the festival, it’s also a reminder to us all of the vital need to do everything we can to protect one of nature’s greatest wonders, the night sky, from light pollution so that we can help safeguard the natural world as well as our own health and wellbeing.”

The festival will run nationwide from February 9 to February 25.

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