Star Gazing

Pendle HillThe Forest of Bowland is a stargazer's paradise - one of England's darkest areas making it a great destination both by day and night.

The Milky Way arches majestically across the sky on clear autumn evenings and star clusters sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. It is a breath taking scene that adds so much to the unspoilt character of the area and provides the stuff of holiday memories.

View a series of timelapses and images of the sky above the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, produced by local astroner Robert Ince. (Note video also embedded at bottom of page)

Dark Sky Discovery Sites

We're delighted to announce that we now have 4 Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Bowland at Beacon Fell Country Park, Crook O'Lune Picnic Site, Slaidburn and Gisbrun Forest Hub - read the full story here.

Or visit www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk/dark-sky-discovery-sites/map.html

EVENTS

We have been working with local, amateur astonomer Robert Ince who is running several events in Bowland during 2017.  Please book directly with him via his Eventbrite website.

Email sandra.silk@lancashire.gov.uk if you would like to be kept on a mailing list for future events or phone 01200 448000.  There will be several star gazing events running in 2017 as part of the Festival Bowland programme - programme out end of January 2017!


In mid-summer the nights don't get properly dark, due to our northerly latitudes. So, from early May to late July, the sky may look beautiful, but you won't see as many stars. During the rest of the year the only obstacles are the weather and the moon. The latter is a wonderful object to view with a scope or binoculars, but its light does wash out the fainter stars. The starriest view of the heavens comes when the moon is out of the way – the so-called new moon period. Most diaries will tell you when this is (14 days after the full moon). But of course the moon itself is an attraction. The best time to view it is when it is in a partial phase, for instance first quarter. You will be rewarded with views of craters and mountain chains cast into sharp relief by slanting sunlight.

Planets are unaffected by the moon's presence and Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars can all be observed when above the horizon. Our view of the stars also changes through the year as the Earth orbits the Sun so there's always something new to see.

Gisburn ForestThe Seasons

Spring

A great time to view brighter galaxies and planets like Jupiter and Saturn are also well placed. Nights are still long and the weather is warming up so it's a great time to observe. The constellation of Leo dominates the southern sky.

Summer

You will see fewer stars around mid-summer, but watch out for ghostly noctilucent clouds high in the sky. You will also see tantalising glimpses of the Milky Way to whet appetites for the months ahead. Watch out for August's Perseid meteor shower – one of the year's best. Truly dark skies return at the end of July.

Autumn

Together with the spring this is a prime viewing time. Nights are properly dark and the Milky Way is overhead in the evening, resembling a shimmering river of stars. Star clusters Stocks Reservoiralso look fantastic. Meteors showers like the Leonids can put on a good show in November.

Winter

The season of sparkling skies! The sky is often at its most transparent as temperatures dip. Glittering star clusters and magnificent constellations like Orion grace the sky, along with bright nebula. Wrap up warm and the rewards can be amazing.

 


Images by Matthew Savage www.facebook.com/matthewsavagephoto

Expertise and text by Robert Ince https://twitter.com/robbieince

Further Information

Keeping Bowland in the Dark: Guidance for residents on reducing obtrusive light in the AONB (added April 2016)

Obtrusive Lighting Position Statement (added April 2016)

If you are a business interested in becoming 'Dark Sky Friendly' or running star gazing events please contact hetty.byrne@lancashire.gov.uk

Apps

There are many astro apps for iPhones, other smartphones and tablets running Android and Windows. They can help you understand the night sky and keep up with events.

Here's a selection:

A series of timelapses and images of the sky above the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, produced by amatuer astroner Robert Ince: