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Escape into space gazing at Dark Skies on England's Coast

On a clear night, you can see thousands of stars and the Milky Way with the naked eye. We check out two of the best spots, the North York Moors and the Isle of Wight for a night out with the stars!

The North York Moors National Park offers one of the best places to the country for star gazing

With some of the lowest light pollution in the country, the North York Moors National Park is the perfect entry point for Dark Sky gazing. 

Join in the Dark Skies Fringe Festival 27 October to 5 November .

Plan a visit in October half term to meet local providers and find out more about the blanket of stars above us. The Park offers two superb opportunities - The Fringe Festival in October and main Dark Skies Festival 9-24 February ’24, perfectly book-ending the star-spangled season. 

The North York Moors scooped the coveted International Dark Sky Reserve accolade in 2020, one of only 21 in the world, and in the darkest areas of the National Park you can see up to 2,000 stars at any one time. 

Join in night walks, daytime adventures and craft activities such as bat-box making, tune into mindful experiences, night-time bike rides and much more. 

Better still, book a stay and gaze package spending a night at a dark skies friendly business who offer telescopes or binoculars, reclining chairs and blankets so you can snuggle down for hours of heavenward gazing. Some run stay and gaze packages with an expert on site for the ultimate experience.

Learn more about Dark skies friendly locations in NYMNP here.

Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies! Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies!
Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies!

Stay and gaze in the North York Moors

Join in moonlit walks, discover what’s in the heavens from the experts and maybe glimpse the Northern Lights! 

On 30 October, head over to Whitby Abbey for a Headland Walk at 7pm. The Dracula inspired Abbey is the perfect spooky site for a talk from the local Astronomical Society, book here   

Or take a Magical Moonlight Coastal Walk on 28 October with Alison from Adventures for the Soul & Fabian from AFS MountaineeringNight walking is said to be an exceptional mood-booster, banish the winter blues and expand your horizons on this sensory stroll.  

Switch off the daily grind and take a moonlit walk from iconic Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar on 5 November. Join a group from Large Outdoors, fellow star chasers, and benefit from an expert guide pointing out starry overhead treats. 

But the big question – what will you see? 

If you look directly overhead during autumn and early winter evenings, you might see a river of light – the darker the skies, the more visible to the naked eye. The soft glow is caused by the light of millions of dim stars within our own galaxy - the Milky Way. 

Amazingly the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are also visible from the North York Moors, good displays have recently been seen on the coast. Best bet is to sign up for the AuroraWatchUk app which gives a few hours’ notice. 

From meteor showers to the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away!) and the International Space Station that passes overhead throughout the year – if you want to expand your horizons, have your mind blown by the North York Moors Dark Skies. 

Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies!
Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies! Escape into space gazing at our Dark Skies!

Cut off from the mainland and as a UNESCO Biosphere, the Isle of Wight has very little light pollution and is a perfect destination for star gazers of all ages.  

October half-term is ideal as darkness falls around 8pm. You’ll have the chance to see The Milky Way, Cassiopeia. Orion and The Plough. 

Head to some of the Island’s more remote locations for the best chance of spotting meteor showers and big displays, including Freshwater Bay, Compton Bay, Brook Chine, Whale Chine, Culver down, Yaverland and the Needles Headland. 

For the best experience, plan your night out before or after a new moon, you want to avoid a bright moon as it deflects the light from fainter stars. You’ll have the chance to see thousands rather than hundreds of twinkling bright lights. 

Better still, spend a night under the dark skies at one of the Island’s stargazing friendly spots Choose from a Stargazers Cottage, self-cater at a farm or converted barn or stay at Windmill Campersite for a quirky glamping experience. 

Learn more about the Isle of Wight's Dark Skies experiences here.