Explore the Dark Skies of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Did you know that the UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe? This means there are large areas which are completely free from local light pollution and so it's a fantastic place to start your stargazing adventure. Many of the UK's darkest areas can be found in the National Parks as you can see on the map.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is special for many reasons, both during the day and especially at night, as it is the third darkest sky in the UK. Under this really dark sky you can see up to 2,000 stars and we can even see our own galaxy and The Milky Way stretching across the sky.
Dark Skies Festival in the Yorkshire Dales National Park 2024
The Yorkshire Dales National Park are so proud of our night time skies that we are celebrating with the fifth Dark Skies Festival which will be held from Friday 9 February - Sunday 25 February 2024. A whole new half term experience awaits at - Experience awesome planetariums, night runs, magical moonlit walks, celestial stargazing parties, night-time bike rides, planet trails, movie nights, nocturnal bushcraft, starry night kids' crafts & amazing rocket making - many of which are free and accessible.
Cottage in the Dales 'Dark Skies Treat' February 2024
Cottage in the Dales is offering luxury 5 star short breaks of 3 nights or longer arriving any day of the week with a complimentary Dark Skies Treat in February 2023. This Dark Skies Treat includes :
* 'Stargazing 2024' the month by month guide to what you can see in the Dark Sky across the UK - your own copy to take home.
* Our own Dark Skies package - tuition & use of a telescope to view one of the darkest skies in the UK where you can view star clusters, nebulas & even the Milky Way!
* Stay at The Byre or Inglenook Cottage & if you need accessibilty, stay at The Dairy where the accommodation is accessible and the above activities are accessible too!
There are additional events either side of the festival happening throughout the winter and early spring from January to April.
Cottage in the Dales Dark Skies Package
We are delighted to be able to offer our guests - free of charge, with our compliments - your very own Dark Skies package to help you get started. You can book in advance of your stay or once you arrive - mainly because none of us know which nights will be clear to see the moon and stars. All you need are some warm clothes, hat, gloves and boots as we are delighted to be able to provide our guests :
* Telescope (see the photos of Diane receiving tuition from Richard Darn on how best to view the moon)
* Two red head torches
* One hand torch
* Star Gazing Guide Book - month by month guide as to what to see in the Dark Sky every single night!
* Yorkshire Dales National Park Star Gazing Leaflet
* Simple instructions on how to use the telescope, which will be all setup to use
* Guidance notes on how to access the various websites and apps that are mentioned below
* Suggestions of where to go, or even just in the garden of your cottage
* Two fold up deckchairs
* Picnic basket containing a flask for your warm drinks & containers for your sandwiches/nibbles
* Picnic blanket
Stargazing Guidance in the Yorkshire Dales
Take a look at the Yorkshire Dales National Park's Stargazing leaflet for top tips on viewing the sky at night, what to look for and when.
Where should I go?
There are many places in the Yorkshire Dales National Park that are great for stargazing. The more remote you are from light sources such as street lights, the better.
There are four designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the Yorkshire Dales National Park :
(1) Malham Natonal Park Centre, Malhamdale
(2) Buckden National Park Car Park, Wharfedale
(3) Hawes National Park Centre, Wensleydale
(4) Tan Hill Inn, Swaledale - the highest pub in England
These are locations that are defined as being open to the public, accessible to all abilities and provide parking and other facilities, and are a great place to begin.
What can I see?
On a clear night you could see as many as 2,000 stars. In most places it is possible to see the Milky Way as well as the planets, meteors - and not forgetting the Moon. You might even catch the Northern Lights when activity and conditions are right, as well as the International Space Station travelling at 17,000mph overhead.
The Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis?
AuroraWatchUK is the ideal way to receive alerts when the scientists are predicting it might be possible to see the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) in the UK. You can follow them on Twitter or download an app for your phone. The Northern Lights can only be predicted a few hours before they occur and when activity peaks you need to be ready to go!
August sees the annual Perseid meteor shower when, at its peak, hundreds of meteors an hour can be seen. Meteor showers happen at predictable times throughout the year and information can be found on a variety of websites such as Time and Date.
Stars and Planets
Sky Week has a comprehensive guide to what you can see in the night sky this week. Pocket Universe is an app with plenty of features and star maps. Stellarium is an excellent free planetarium program which gives you a real time view of the night sky and can be loaded onto a PC, phone or tablet.
The very darkest skies occur at the time of the New Moon - two weeks after Full Moon. However, the Moon itself is a great object to take a closer look at, especially when its full. Time and Date has details of when the phases of the Moon will occur.
International Space Station
The ISS (which recently had British astronaut Major Time Peake on board) will pass overhead often throughout the year. In fact, it orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. To find out when you might see it in your location, visit NASA or download the ISS spotting app.
What's happening soon in the Dark Sky?
Take a look at Dark Sky UK to find out about upcoming events in the dark sky in the UK. We would like to thank it's author Richard Darn (pictured with Diane above), astronomer and media consultant, for helping Cottage in the Dales with recommendations about what telescope and bincoulars are best to get started with stargazing for our guests, for use of some excellent photos and for the interesting and passionate talks he gives to anyone - individuals and businesses - who are interested in learning more about the Dark Skies above the UK. Richard is so inspiring!
We would like to thank and acknowledge the copyrights of the following people for some of the photos on this page :
* Martin Eastwood for the Milky Way over the Ribblehead Viaduct photo
* Matt Savage for the starry night from a farm gate near Ingleton photo
* Richard Darn for the telescope to the moon at Walden photo (and thanks from Diane of Cottage in the Dales in the photo)
* North News for the Northern Lights over Tann Hill Inn at the top of Swaledale
* Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for the Stargazing Leaflet image