Dark Skies at Exmoor
There are just fifteen Dark Sky Reserves in the world, with three in England. Exmoor was the first named International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe.
You can find several Dark Sky Reserves around the world, these are sites that have been specially earmarked because they have an exceptional quality of starry skies. Much like being a nature reserve, Dark Sky Reserves are specially protected for their scientific, natural and cultural properties and the land on Exmoor is no exception, the various land owners and managers have all made the commitment to protect the sky here so we can continue to enjoy it for years to come. The Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country and the lack of light pollution in this region is one of the reasons why it was named as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. Exmoor is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy a spot of stargazing and this incredible experience can be had all over the moor. From those setting up a spot to enjoy the night sky on their own space adventure to those who attend the annual Dark Skies Festival, there are ample opportunities to catch site of constellations, planets and some amazing nocturnal wildlife.
The Exmoor National Park Authority, Devon and Somerset County Councils, landowners, businesses, individuals and communities within Exmoor are continuing to work together to reduce light pollution in the region.
Exmoor’s Dark Skies Festival
Every autumn Exmoor is host to the Dark Skies Festival which takes place over a few weeks and includes a whole host of activities and events for the whole family. These festivals are all about finding out more about stars and enjoying the untarnished night sky. Activities can be as simple as going out for a walk, attending a stargazing party or getting together to learn more about the constellations and making your own star map.
You can find out more about the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival and the upcoming events for the next festival here.
The events take place in both daylight and nighttime hours and are a perfect addition to your North Devon adventure!
Tips for stargazing on Exmoor
If you want to embark on your own Exmoor dark skies adventure, makes sure to head out on a clear night and look up – you’ll be sure to see something wherever you are but if you want a truly magical experience, here are a few pointers.
While stargazing is an all year around activity, the darker nights of the winter months will give you more opportunity purely because they last longer! If you’re someone desperate to see a shooting star or other phenomenon, late summer and autumn are the ideal time to indulge in some stargazing.
When you’re on Exmoor, find a spot that is away from the direct glare of lights and has a clear line of sight without tall buildings or trees. Make sure the spot you choose is open to the public and is a safe space without any large rocks or other hazards. There are maps available from the Exmoor National Park’s website which highlights the best places to go for stargazing.
The best rated places for stargazing are Brendon Common, Wimbleball Lake, County Gate Car Park, Bossington Hill, Dunkery Beacon and Webber’s Post and Winsford Hill.
Don’t forget, you don’t need any special equipment to stargaze, just your eyes!