As part of the very first Welsh Dark Sky Week 2022, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB will be hosting a week full of dark sky activities and events to celebrate our protected dark skies. The festival will take place from the 19th – 27th February across the country.
The night sky is one of the joys of a winter in North East Wales. Much of the UK and Europe is afflicted by light pollution, but here in Wales there are hundreds of places to experience the beauty of our dark skies. Wales now has a network of International Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks that astronomers have singled out as world-beating places to go stargazing. Our AONB have taken delivery of a mobile observatory which comes in the form a converted camper van kitted out with telescopes, charts, cameras and other equipment, which will support Dark Skies events throughout the year.
The importance of high quality darkness is twofold. Firstly, around 60% of our wildlife is most active at night and studies have shown that artificial light at night has negative – sometimes deadly – effects on many creatures (including humans) affecting behaviours such as nourishment, sleep patterns, reproduction and protection from predators. By preserving our dark skies so that our wildlife can thrive in their natural habitats, living by the natural cycles of night and day.
Secondly, there are few places left where people can really get a true perception of night and its awe-inspiring sky brimming with stars. In fact, only 2% of people living in the UK will experience a truly dark sky. We are lucky to be in a position where visitors can easily get to spaces that have very little light pollution from the surrounding populated areas, meaning that astronomers, enthusiasts, poets and scholars alike can enjoy one of the most spectacular shows on Earth.
To kick off this exciting week of celestial events, they are encouraging star enthusiasts of all ages to head into your back gardens or AONB Dark Sky Discovery Sites to marvel at the night sky!
On any clear night, countless wonders await you in the sky. You can see a galaxy 2½ million light-years away with your unaided eyes, and with binoculars spot craters on the moon! There are many ways to get involved, why not gather blankets outside to create a cosy space to stargaze, watch the sky change as the sun sets into dusk, or pitch a tent in your garden to search for shooting stars!
You can register as an AONB stargazer or business supporter through our website, and receive a free constellation pocket guide and dark sky information pack sent to your door.
Join one of the inspirational online talks
Have you always wanted to know more about our spectacular sky? Broaden your understanding of the importance of dark skies by joining us at one of our evening online talks:
‘Our Dark Skies’ on Saturday 19th February – join the North Wales Dark Skies Officer, Dani Robertson, and learn about why our dark skies are so important and what we are doing in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley to protect them.
On Sunday 20th February you can attend ‘Nocturnal Insects and the Night Sky’ – join Rochelle Meah to discover the effects of light pollution on the nocturnal behaviour, navigation and activity of spiders and moths.
Go along to a free event
Our exciting timetable of events can help you to explore the night sky! All of our events are free to attend, but do require booking. Visit our website for our full schedule and more details on how to attend. During the week you can:
Discover Moel Famau in the dark with an exciting evening of stargazing! Join local astronomer Rob Jones for an evening of stargazing at this beautiful country park. Explore the secrets and science of the night sky, learn how to identify constellations and delight in the beauty and mystery of our amazing universe.
Gather around the campfire with local storyteller Fiona Collins for a short walk and evening of storytelling under the stars.
Visit the StarDome planetarium for an interactive session to explore the secrets and science of the night sky. While you’re there, delve into an exciting afternoon of astronomy crafts!
Help set up a portable moth trap at Plas Newydd in Llangollen, to see which nocturnal moths are present in the heart of the Dee Valley. During the evening you can also try your hand at building your very own bat box, to help conserve our nocturnal wildlife! Pop back in the morning to discover what marvellous creatures have been caught overnight.