Autumn has crept up on us and nights are drawing in. Yet getting outside is even more crucial for our mental well-being in these anxious times. A rise in interest in night time photography – astrophotography – using digital cameras and affordable telescopes is a great excuse to venture out. My good friend Al sent me this wonderful image of the Andromeda Galaxy he took just from his back garden in Staveley (10 September).

He’s new into astrophotography, learning loads, inspired by the elation and buzz of capturing truly amazing shots of planets and stars billions of miles away. These long exposure time pictures reveal coloration and clarity that the naked eye is unable to. Protecting our dark skies around Cumbria allows people like Al to have this opportunity and to share it with his family and friends – a free display on your doorstep!

Ian Bradley, the Chair of the Eddington Astronomical Society, shared his passion and knowledge with us to give us some top tips in a blog recently.(1) The three Astronomical Societies in Cumbria have great enthusiasts welcoming new people to join them. Do take a look at their websites for further information.(2)

It’s not just Cumbrian residents who can really enjoy our dark sky star laden evenings, but visitors seeking out beautiful places to rest, relax and refresh. We really feel for all the tourism businesses in this unbelievably challenging moment for them. Together we must celebrate Cumbria’s Dark Skies as a vital attraction for people to come and visit safely over the coming autumn and winter months.

Friends of the Lake District’s 2020 photo competition included many amazing night sky images taken by highly skilled amateur photographers. Two of the winning shots are featured in their Xmas Cards and 2021 Calendar. Stunning images, good value and contributing funds towards vital project, land management and policy work for the landscape and dark skies cause in the Lakes and wider Cumbria.(3)

(1). See https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/news/photographing-the-night-sky

(2). Websites: Eddington (South Lakes) www.eas-online.org.uk Border (North & East Cumbria): http://www.p3publications.com/starter.htm  Cockermouth (North West Cumbria): https://www.cockermouthastronomy.co.uk/

(3). https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/shop

Photo above of Andromeda by Alasdair Muir.