The National Parks Virtual Dark Skies Festival 2021 takes place from 12th February through to the 28th February 2021. It is run in collaboration with the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks with support from the team at Go Stargazing. This year will be the festival’s 6th anniversary and, due to the coronavirus pandemic, events will be held online.
All events are FREE OF CHARGE and, in the main, take the form of a Zoom meeting. To join in simply register using the event links below, after each presentation participants will have opportunity to ask the presenters questions. Most events will also be streamed live via the Go Stargazing Facebook page, a public Facebook page that can be accessed without the need for a Facebook account or login (ignore any prompts to register or login!)
For more details and to reserve your space in a Zoom presentation please click through each event below to access the booking form.
For even more events please see the National Parks Dark Skies Festival website.
From beginners telescopes and accessories to stargazing experience vouchers and getaways, here we offer some of the best astronomy gifts to give to enthusiastic stargazers, both young and older, for Christmas 2020.
Telescopes make an ideal Christmas present particularly for younger astronomers. Availability however is somewhat scarce due to strong sales throughout the year with many retailers out of stock. Our suggestions below have some stock availability, are easy to setup and use and come with sturdy mounts.
For more comprehensive advice on what to look for when buying a telescope see our Which is the best telescope for beginners? guide. We recommend buying through a reputable dealer such as First Light Optics who frequently have telescopes come up in their list of sale offers!
This is a great grab and go telescope which is easy to setup and operate. It comes with a solid tripod on sturdy mount and fine adjusters which help you keep objects in the field of view as they move across the sky due to Earth’s rotation. It has a 90mm lens which gathers a good amount of light resulting in great views of the Moon, planets and the brighter deep sky objects.
This is another good beginner’s telescope giving excellent views of the Moon and planets and good views of other objects. It comes with a “goto” mount which enables you to use a mobile app to point the telescope at numerous objects, although this does require some practice when setting up your telescope. The 70mm lens is a little small however the mount itself is a sound investment offering upgrade path if you want a larger instrument in future.
This full size Dobsonian telescope is another ideal beginners telescope, its larger 8″ mirror collects more light and therefore offers better views of deep sky objects. The below mentioned book “Turn Left at Orion” is a perfect combination. Note that these telescopes are extremely popular with very limited stock!
This cool device makes it easy to attach a mobile phone to a telescope eyepiece and is absolutely fantastic for taking photos of the Moon! The perfect accessory for any telescope!
These entry level binoculars perform extremely well for their price and are a perfect introduction to visual astronomy. They offer the right amount of magnification to be hand held while enabling views of craters on the Moon, the Moons of Jupiter, some of the brighter star clusters even the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebulae. Even better when used with a tripod and this adapter.
Stargazing experience vouchers make for a fantastic gift for anyone interested in astronomy! Vouchers are redeemable against events which take place in some of the UK’s best stargazing locations such as the North East, North West and central Wales.
Ask any astronomer which book they might recommend as to how to find objects in the sky and the majority will suggest Turn Left at Orion. With easy to use guides covering all of the constellations in the Northern hemisphere this book is the perfect accompaniment to any telescope helping beginners learn their way around the constellations, identifying the brightest and most interesting deep sky objects and observing them through their telescope. Much better than any phone or tablet app!
Aimed at astronomers aged from about 7 to 12 this book is a wonderful introduction to the practical side of astronomy. Follow Felicity the Cat as she guides you around the constellations learning everything from the phases of the moon to how to see the Northern Lights. A perfect Christmas gift for any child interested in space! Available in bookshops.
This book goes hand in hand with any new telescope! Ideal for children and novices the book covers the best stargazing objects to see each season.
BBC astronomer Mark Thompson has created this amazing book which offers some of the most interesting space facts we’ve ever come across! Perfect for enthusiasts or novices alike.
Aston Smith is a keen aspiring astronomer who despite being only 8 years of age and living with ADHD and Autism has written an amazing book about one of his favourite topics — the solar system! It’s packed with interesting facts and diagrams and can be enjoyed by fellow children and adults alike!
This is our favourite pocket guide summarising what to see in the night skies on a monthly basis. It’s an excellent resource for anyone keen on looking up and great stocking filler!
This is a great present for anyone interested in photography or even abstract art! Place a Solarcan facing Southwards and let it capture the path of the Sun’s light as our closest star moves across the sky! Excellent stocking filler!
Please note that (in some but not all cases) Go Stargazing may receive a commission when purchases are made using the above links, this at no cost to you. All monies are re-invested in our not-for-profit venture. Thank you for your support!
If you’ve recently purchased a telescope and are having difficulties do not fear as you are not alone! Our team of astronomers are on hand to assist and can help with your telescope and advise how to get over any initial hurdles!
To request assistance please complete the form below. Your details will be forwarded on to an astronomer who is available based upon your preferred dates and they will contact you to agree a time. You’ll be invited to communicate with your astronomer directly, for example by phone, video call or Zoom meeting. Whilst of course we’d love to help you in person we have managed to help a number of people “virtually” this way!
Go Stargazing does not charge for this service, we ask that you agree any fees directly with the astronomer who helps you. As a guide you might set aside 30 minutes to an hour and consider budgeting between £10 and £20.
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The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks are holding a Virtual Dark Skies Week from 23rd October 2020 to 1st November 2020 as a taster for their main Dark Skies Festival scheduled for 12th February 2021 to 28th February 2021. Go Stargazing is very pleased to be supporting this event by hosting a range of online talks and presentations all of which are ideal for novices and perfect for anyone with an interest in the night sky.
All events are FREE OF CHARGE and will take the form of a Zoom webinar with pre-registered participants having opportunity to ask the presenters questions, a live video feed of each event will also be broadcast to the Go Stargazing Facebook page which can be accessed publicly (no Facebook account required).
For more details and to register your space in the Zoom presentation please see each event below.
The dark skies above the North York Moors offer a lot to celebrate and a variety of stargazing events taking place as part of this half-term festival offers lots of opportunities to experience this stunning part of Yorkshire, by day and of course by night! For more details on the range of events on offer, including night time nature walks to climbing rope bridges in darkness, see the official website.
Also look out for the North York Moors main dark skies festival which takes place each year during February.
The annual Exmoor Dark Skies Festival takes place this year between 16th October to 31st October with a wide variety of events happening in and around Exmoor National Park. All events are run in conjunction with the current rules, regulations and safety requirements regarding coronavirus. The region was designated a Dark Sky Reserve in Autumn 2011 in recognition of the low levels of light pollution and the fantastic dark skies that can be enjoyed above.
Here we feature stargazing specific events taking place during the festival which include some element of practical astronomy. For a complete schedule of events and for more details see the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2020 official webpage. We wish everyone involved in running or participating in the festival good luck with the weather and clear skies!
As keen supporters of the astronomy community Go Stargazing is offering to list online events taking place in lieu of normal events due to the coronavirus pandemic and promote them to our website visitors and social media followers.
If you or your organisation is planning an online event such as a webinar, Zoom presentation, YouTube or Facebook Live please complete the below form and we will happily add your event to our online astronomy events calendar.
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Go Stargazing is pleased to recommend the fabulous Space Detectives and their forthcoming online workshops “Space Club Live”. Aimed at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 children (ages 5 through to 11) the workshops cover various astronomy topics including planets, the Moon and even galaxies! Each session includes a live experiment and space related arts and craft designed to enthuse, inspire and inform each participating child.
Sessions run for 6 weeks on Tuesday evenings from 5pm to 6pm commencing 15th September 2020 and cost just £60 per family for all 6 sessions. We think it’s an awesome way to encourage children’s interest in space and astronomy and Space Detectives are a fabulous organisation that we would like to support! Go Stargazing receives no commission for this recommendation.
To indicate your interest in these workshops please complete the following form the details of which will be sent directly to Jo at Space Detectives.
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The annual Perseids meteor shower is possibly the most eagerly anticipated by astronomers. For several years they have resulted in a great show with dozens of bright meteors being spotted every hour around the peak of their activity.
Each year as the Earth travels on its orbit around the Sun it encounters a vast swathe of cosmic dust left over by the comet Swift-Tuttle. As these tiny dust particles enter Earth’s atmosphere at great speed they burn up leaving a brief but bright trail — a shooting star!
Perseids meteors appear to radiate from the constellation of Perseus, hence their name. The shower takes place each year from July 14th through to August 24th however they reach their peak on the evening of August 12th / morning of August 13th, this when Earth passes through the densest part of leftover dust. The very best time to see them (if you can stay up late!) is in the early hours of August 13th when up to 80 meteors per hour may be seen from a dark sky location.
In 2020 the peak of the shower takes place during new Moon, which is great! No bright Moon means more of the fainter shooting stars can be seen. It should be an amazing spectacle especially if you are able to escape the worst effects of light pollution.
For the best place to see the Perseids meteor shower the most important requirement is a wide open space where you can see as much of the sky as possible. Scan the skies using your peripheral vision (rather than staring towards any particular spot) and you should catch them out of the “corner of your eye”. This in turn will draw your sight towards them. You do not need any visual aid such as binoculars or a telescope, just your eyes and a bit of patience!
Our map includes recognised dark sky discovery sites, recommended locations from organisations such as national parks and AONB’s and a few of our own favourite places for good measure!
Why not enjoy a short stargazing break to escape the bright lights of our towns and cities and see the Perseids from a dark location!? We are constantly adding to our map of venues and accommodation providers who cater for stargazers! Hope this gives you some ideas! Clear skies!
Image used with kind permission from Darren Musgrove
Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, to give its full designation, will be visible in the evening skies by observers in the Northern hemisphere throughout July 2020. The comet’s closest approach to Earth is on 24th July when it will be 103.7 million kilometres distant and is likely to be the very best time to see it.
The chart shows the position of the comet in the sky between the 14th to the 23rd July at 23:00 in the evening, this the time when the comet should just about be visible to the naked eye towards the North West. You may need to wait another half an hour, perhaps even until midnight, before seeing it more clearly once the skies have darkened. During the course of the night will appear to move (due to Earth’s rotation) towards the North and by dawn will appear towards the North East. When it is due North it will be at its lowest point in the sky however will remain visible above the Northern horizon all night.
The comet is easily visible to the naked eye from a reasonably dark sky location that is free from the worst light pollution. If you cannot escape bright lights or are unable travel to a dark sky site don’t worry as the comet can still be seen however will likely require visual aid such as a pair of binoculars. As the comet appears fairly low in the sky you will need an unobstructed view towards the Northern horizon to see it. See our map of stargazing locations for places near you.
The best way to observe the comet is by using a pair of binoculars. You should be able to see the bright core of the comet and far more of its tail than you can see just with your naked eye.
Whilst any pair of binoculars will improve your view we highly recommend those which are 10×50 in size as these are great for not only observing the comet but for general astronomy use too. If you are looking to purchase some we always advise buying from an independent astronomy equipment retailer and recommend First Light Optics who sell a range of suitable binoculars and offer fantastic customer service.
For up to date information see our Facebook page. Clear skies!