Stargazers needed to share night sky sights in North Yorkshire

The next Dark Skies Festival held by the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Park Authorities will be held on February 9 to 25.  Picture by Matthew Savage.
The next Dark Skies Festival held by the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Park Authorities will be held on February 9 to 25. Picture by Matthew Savage.
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People with a passion for the celestial are being recruited to help harness a growing enthusiasm for stargazing in some of the country’s best dark sky locations.

An initial 12 ‘starmakers’ are being sought to train as expert astronomers so that more events can be staged in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks, Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills.

After being trained free of charge, a first cohort will support North Yorkshire’s fourth annual Dark Skies Festival in February 2019.

Tracey Lambert, tourism officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, said: “Ideally our budding Starmakers need to have some experience in astronomy and star gazing but more importantly they need a passion for the night sky to join our team as full training and mentoring will be given. In return all we ask is a commitment to help deliver some of the events.”

The Starmakers programme is inspired by a rising number of enquiries about stargazing evenings held during autumn and winter, as well as growing interest in the national parks’ Dark Sky festivals.

Such has been the appetite for stargazing in the national parks since the first festival was held last year, that more night sky experts are needed to satisfy the demand, explained Mike Hawtin, outdoor activity tourism officer for the North York Moors National Park.

“Our existing pool of astronomers has become stretched to the limit responding to requests from hotels, bed and breakfasts, historic buildings and many other venues,” Mr Hawtin said.

For more details about the Starmakers initiative, see www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk