Making the most of Dark Skies

As winter draws closer, the skies above Cumbria come to life with constellations, Milky Way and more – they truly are a sight to behold. To make the most of this fantastic time of year, we have put together some fun tips for making the most of Dark Skies, from great spots to view the skies to games and activities to involve the whole family.

Make your own (waterproof) star gazer

The great British weather may lean towards the rainy side come Autumn/Winter but that doesn’t have to stop the fun. You can create a unique stargazer with the family from that unused, broken umbrella in the corner of the cupboard. A dark coloured umbrella is best for this. Create a series of holes to match up with the stars in the sky at your favourite spot.

You can either download maps of the constellations to create an accurate guide, or why not create a game – creating holes at random to see who can align the most stars as they track across the sky. Use clear tape or acetate over the holes to ensure your umbrella stays dry while you create a magical scene with starlight.

Dancing in the moonlight

A stalwart of every classic Hollywood film was a dance in the moonlight, with the stars gazing down. Give this a modern makeover by creating your own playlist of songs perfect for watching nature’s greatest show play out across the vast skies of Cumbria. From the classical ‘Waltz of the Rising Star’ to the more modern tracks, such as ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, what will make your list?

Spot the Space Station

Have you seen the international space station? It’s a fun thing to try and spot as you can see it with the naked eye whizzing across the sky like a bright star.

There are apps that tell you when to look out for it including: ISS Detector: See the Space Station

  

There's also plenty of online help and instructions to help you 'Spot the Station' on NASA's website: Spot The Station

Eye spy stars

From the Milky Way to even your own star sign – there is so much to see in the night sky above Cumbria. Look out for our upcoming family fun pack which will contain a guide to some of the most dazzling constellations in the night sky, how many will you spot in a night, and how long until you’ve tracked them all?

We hope these activities give you a fun start to your stargazing journey. There is more fun to be had stargazing at the following locations and events:

Great spots to view the skies

In Cumbria you are spoilt for choice when it comes to great spots to view the stars. Try the Dark Sky Discovery site of Low Gillerthwaite, Ennerdale  or the remote and beautiful Wasdale Valley, both in West Cumbria. Asby Common in the Eden Valley is a wild, open space with very little light pollution and Grizedale Forest has regular star gazing events for all the family.

Events coming up

Autumn is a great time to get out and stargaze. Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre has a free family stargazing event on Saturday 28 September that includes talks, children’s activities and even warming soup for stargazers. Grizedale Forest holds regular events with the next ones coming up on 28, 29 September and 4, 5 October. The North Pennines Stargazing Festival is being held in various locations from 23 October – 3 November; ideal for half term family fun.


Donate to our Dark Skies appeal and help protect the Dark Skies of Cumbria from light pollution.