Darkskies week website bannerWebinars and Events

We’ve got a whole range of incredible events going on across the county during #DevonDarkSkies week, a week in which dark skies will inspire you, providing the opportunity to engage with the natural world once the sun has set. Best of all our events are designed specially for beginners and many can be done from home to make sure everyone can get involved.

You can meet published nature writer and illustrator Tiffany Francis Baker as she helps us embrace the solitude of night. Take incredible pictures of the night sky with astrophotographer Tom Pinches. Understand what lighting is really all about from a nationally renowned lighting designer or how this affects wildlife from four eminent scientists. And to kick off this fabulous week we are inviting you to join us on a tour through the galaxy, exploring the wonders of the cosmos with the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

Webinar Overview – Follow the links for full descriptions and to book your place (or scroll to the bottom of this page for further information)

Friday 23rd A virtual tour of the night sky with the Norman Lockyer Observatory 20:30 FREE

Sunday 25th An Introduction to Astrophotography with Tom Pinches 18:00-19:00 FREE

Monday 26th Space Detectives ‘In the Night Sky Live’ family event with Space Outreach Educator 11:00-12:00 £5 per family login

Monday 26th What is lighting? with nationally recognised lighting designer Bonnie Brooks18:00-19:00 FREE

Tuesday 27th Embracing Nature and Darkness to Inspire Creativity and Wellbeing with published nature writer and illustrator Tiffany Francis-Baker 12:00-13:00 FREE

Tuesday 27th Barbastelle Bats in the Bovey Valley with Devon Mammal Group 19:30-21:00 FREE

Wednesday 28th Artificial Lighting and Wildlife – An evening of informative talks with four scientists and nature enthusiasts 18:00-19:30 SOLD OUT

Thursday 29th What future for Dark Skies? with astronomer, co-ordinator of the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, and published Author Bob Mizon MBE 18:00-19:00 FREE Now to be joined by CPRE Devon discussing the status of dark skies in the county!

Thursday 29th Exmoor by Bioluminescence With Exmoor National Park Ranger and Exmoor volunteers 19:30-20:30 £2 per login

Events – Follow the links for full descriptions and to book your place (or scroll to the bottom of this page for further information)

Monday 19th & Tuesday 20th Dark Skies Adventure by boat from Minehead

Friday 23rd Ranger guided walk up Hollerday Hill, Lynton 18:00

Tuesday 27th Family activity session with Outdoor Adventure and Astro presentation at Exmoor National Park’s Pinkery Outdoor Centre near Simonsbath 16:30-18:30

Tuesday 27th Presentation and Stargazing at the National Park’s Pinkery Outdoor Centre Near Simonsbath 19:30 – 21:30

Tuesday 27th Heale Stars & Nature Evening at Heale Farm, Parracombe 19:00

Wednesday 28th & Thursday 29th October Wildlife at Night at Exmoor Pony Centre 17:00-18:30

Wednesday 28th Nightfall Nature Walk – Head out into the woods with only our torches and our courage to explore nature after dark 19:00 – 20:30 £5-£10

Friday 30th  Astro Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor 16:30-18:30

Friday 30th Moonlit Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor 19:30-21:30

Full description of Events and Webinars can be found in date order below

19th and 20th October 19:30 – Dark skies adventure by boat from Minehead

A two hour boat trip for eight people on the ‘Alykat’ a 10m power driven catamaran. With ample deck space and seating you will sail from Minehead harbour down to the Exmoor coastline to Porlock bay. With luck we may have clear skies and pitch black conditions, giving the opportunity to see some awesome night time sky sightings. You may wish to bring food and a hot flask. Book or find out more for your own exclusive group/bubble of up to 8 people by contacting Dave Roberts on 07764150648 or email, total cost is £150

23rd October 18:00 – Ranger guided walk up Hollerday Hill, Lynton

Meet your guides Ranger Dave Gurnett and local expert Tony Piper at Lynton Town Hall at 6pm before zig-zagging your way up through the trees and later views through this spectacular scenery. Whether it’s clear or cloudy, the tranquil atmosphere of this location at night will blow you mind! Numbers limited to 25. Walk lasts 1.5 -2 hours depending on weather and visibility. Booking open later this week on the Exmoor NP webpage.

23rd October 20:30 – A Virtual Tour of the Night Sky

Join us on a journey through the stars brought to you by the Norman Lockyer Observatory in East Devon. The evening will begin with a planetarium show using where beginners will be talked through observing and exploring the night sky. Then if conditions are clear we will be able to stream livestream images of the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, up close through the observatory telescope allowing you to see the surface of the moon and all the planets.

25th October 18:00 – Online Webinar – ‘An Introduction to Astrophotography’ with Tom Pinches

In this Sunday evening session Tom Pinches will give an overview of the all the tips and tricks he has learnt developing his skills as an amateur astrophotographer. He will take you through the processes and equipment he uses to capture the night sky and be on hand to answer any questions to help you give this type of photography a go.
Tom Pinches is already a well experienced speaker, running events for school and interest groups at Slapton Ley Field Centre. He is also a keen landscape and wildlife photographer. More of his work including some night sky shots can be seen by visiting his flicker page.

26th October 11:00 – Space Detectives ‘In the Night Sky Live’ online family event

Jo Richardson from space detectivesCome and investigate the amazing sky full of stars. Learn about constellations and how our ancestors would have viewed the night sky. And then become a Dark Sky Ranger and understand just how important it is to look after and care for the night not just for now but for future generations. A highly interactive Space Workshop suitable for families of all ages. Delivered live and online by Jo who is a professional Space Outreach Educator and the founder of Space Detectives. Jo is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as being one of the 10 current UK Space Ambassadors working on behalf of the European Space Education Office. If you love space, then this workshop is for you! Book Space Detectives Now.

26th October 18:00 – Online webinar ‘What is Lighting?’ presented by Bonnie Brooks MSc MSLL MCIBSE from Illume Design

Do you know the difference between a lumen and lux? Do you know how LEDs work differently to Halogen bulbs? But most importantly, do you know how out lighting choices can impact the wildlife around us. In this talk Bonnie will provide the answer to some of these questions, covering the basics of the lighting that surrounds us in an engaging way, enabling us to make better choices in the future.

Bonnie is a chartered electrical engineer and lighting specialist with over fifteen years’ experience working within the industry. She has an MSc in Light and Lighting, and specialises in interior / exterior lighting design and daylighting design. She has also contributed to much of the guidance surrounding artificial lighting and bats, with a particular passion for the effects of lighting on wildlife and the environment.

27th October 12:00 – Online Webinar – ‘Embracing Nature and Darkness to Inspire Creativity and Improve Wellbeing’ with Tiffany Francis-Baker

Many of us are familiar with exploring nature during daylight, going on walks, birdwatching and insect hunting but the nocturnal landscape can offer us unique experiences too. In this webinar Tiffany will explore a range of themes around deriving inspiration from the night. This will include how spending time in nature at night can benefit our own physical and mental health. How embracing the circadian rhythm and living with the changing seasons can fit in with life in the modern world. How to find creative inspiration in the nightscape, with a focus on writing and drawing and how embracing nocturnal nature and darkness can inspire creativity and wellbeing.

Tiffany Francis-Baker is a published author and contributor to five books including Dark Skies which explores the different nightscapes across the UK and beyond over the course of a year including a nocturnal sail down the River Dart. During her travels she has explored how our relationship as humans and the darkness of the night sky has changed over time. As well as looking at how our experience of the night has shaped science, history and storytelling. In 2019 Tiffany was also chosen as a Writer-in-Residence for Forestry England to celebrate their centenary year and has also written, edited and illustrated for a number of national publications, including The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, Countryfile, BBC Wildlife and Resurgence & Ecologist. If you would like to find out more about Tiffany’s work you can visit her website or follow her on Instagram. You can also buy her Dark Skies Book.

Tuesday 27th October – 4.30-6.30pm Family activity session with Outdoor Adventure and Astro presentation at Exmoor National Park’s Pinkery Outdoor Centre near Simonsbath.

Join our experienced Rangers and staff for an outdoor adventure then return to base for a stargazing presentation ‘In the Night Sky’ and constellation activity with expert guide Jo Richardson. If weather is poor an indoor presentation will be offered with social distancing measures in place. ENPA event £8 adults £6 children

Tuesday 27th October Presentation and Stargazing at the National Park’s Pinkery Outdoor Centre Near Simonsbath 19:30 – 21:30

Designed for adults and older children, join our experienced Rangers and staff for an outdoor adventure then return to base for a stargazing presentation ‘In the Night Sky’ and activity session with expert guide Jo Richardson. If weather is poor an indoor presentation will be offered with social distancing measures in place.  Adults and older children, ENPA event. Adults £8, Children £6. Enquiries to KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Tuesday 27th October 19:00 Heale Stars & Nature Evening at Heale Farm, Parracombe

Walk, sit, gaze & graze! Arriving at 7pm we will walk through the moor to our field looking east across to the sea, we will walk, gaze, and wonder! Followed by sitting around the Fire Pit with a late graze box supper. Up to 6 people £75pp. Luxury barn accommodation also available. Visit www.healefarm.co.uk Enquiries and booking: 01598 763813 hello@healefarm.co.uk

Tuesday 27th Barbastelle Bats in the Bovey Valley with Devon Mammal Group 19:30-21:00 FREE

The ‘Barbastelle Bats in the Bovey Valley’ talk is in three parts. Firstly Matt Parkins will look back at the initial stages of the project by revisiting a 2015 presentation, then he will describe how the knowledge gained from the research has led to an improvement of habitat management methods and the development of an additional modelling exercise that was designed to predict whether more undiscovered roosts may exist in the valley. The final part will be led by Tom Williams, where he will explain how he spent some time using recording equipment to discover whether that model would indeed find more locations where this scarce species roosts.

Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th October – 5-6.30pm Wildlife at Night at Exmoor Pony Centre

Near Dulverton Meet the ponies and staff for a presentation and walk around the site as dark falls and the bats and owls venture out. Warming hot chocolate included! £4 adults, £3 children Limited numbers so book ASAP. Phone 01398 323093 or email info@exmoorponycentre.org.uk

Wednesday 28th October 18:00 – Online Webinar – ‘Wildlife and Artificial Lighting’ presented by a collection of speakers including Professor Fiona Matthews, Dr Julie Day, Will Scott and Douglas Boyes. SOLD OUT

Light pollution is a threat to 60% of nocturnal invertebrates and 30% of vertebrates. The advent of LEDs is making lighting cheaper, more efficient and accessible but are there consequences for the wildlife that surrounds us? This webinar will bring together four researchers from a variety of organisations keenly aware of the impact lighting is having on wildlife. They will each discuss the effects different lighting options are having on their study species through a series of short presentations helping us to understand how we can best prevent and mitigate against the impacts of lighting in the future.

Professor Fiona Matthews, Chair of the Mammal Society and Professor of Environmental Biology at Sussex University will be introducing artificial lighting and bats.

Dr Julie Day, Evidence Specialist for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee will continue from Fiona, looking deeper into partial night lighting schemes in Devon and the Greater Horseshoe Bat

Will Scott, Habitat Mitigation Officer for the South East Devon Habitats Regulation Partnership will be looking at the nocturnal migration of birds

Douglas Boyes, Entomologist currently completing a NERC-funded PhD at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) Wallingford will be investigating the impacts of street lighting on moths.

Wednesday 28th October 19:00 – 20:30 – Nightfall Nature Walk 

With Halloween around the corner we will head out into the woods in the dark, with only our torches and our courage to explore nature after dark. Our leaders know how to listen out for nocturnal creatures and with local woodland area rich in wildlife there is nothing like hearing it for yourself. You might even be lucky enough to hear a hooting owl! Are you ready to immerse yourselves in the wild and test your senses to find your way round in the dark? Most suitable for families with children between 7 – 12, but open to all. £5-£10.

Thursday 29th October 18:00 – Online webinar – ‘What Future for Dark Skies’ presented by Bob Mizon MBE from the Commission for Dark Skies.

In this webinar Bob Mizon will discus the state of Britain’s night skies, the threat to our view of the stars from modern lighting, and solutions to light pollution. The LED revolution currently occurring in outdoor lighting could easily have reversed the tide of wasted light that has blighted the starry sky over the developed world – but have LEDs made it worse?

Bob Mizon is a graduate in modern languages, but is much better known as an astronomer. He is now a planetarium operator, taking a mobile dome into schools, youth groups and societies all over southern England. Bob is best known in the scientific and environmental community as the co-ordinator of the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, which aims to turn back the tide of light pollution that has seriously affected our view of the stars over the last fifty years.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1985, and has been associated with the Wessex Astronomical Society in various offices for many years.  In 2010 Bob was awarded the MBE for his work in astronomy and environmental education.

Now to be joined by Devon CPRE (The Devon Branch of The Campaign to Protect Rural England). The Director, Penny Mills, and Ivan Buxton will close the evening with a short talk on Dark Skies and the effects of light pollution from a local perspective in Devon. Learn more about the CPRE.

Thursday 29th October 7.30pm – Online Event – Exmoor By Bioluminescence.

Join National Park Ranger Patrick Watts-Mabbott and the Exmoor volunteers for a one-hour live virtual event on one of the wonders of nature. Learn about bioluminescent wildlife on Exmoor.  Including insects, fungi and mosses.  We’ll look at folklore and science and even pixies’ footprints…..(which are real obviously….). We’ll cover how to recognise them and where to go to see them on Exmoor.  Viewing without participation will be free (link will be added here), or you can sign up for a registration fee of just £2 to enter the virtual room and join in the conversation and questions. ENPA event. Register here

Friday 30th October  – 4.30-6.30pm Astro Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor.

Be part of a small group to enjoy a guided walk with a National Park Ranger as the sun goes down and the full moon rises. Hear from our Ranger Charlotte Wray about her love of moths and why they’re important to the environment. Learn how to set up your own moth trap and identify different species. Join astronomer Jo Richardson for a presentation about the Moon, its craters and hear the latest space travel stories!  Weather permitting and with Jo’s help, there’s a chance of some guided stargazing. Numbers limited to 25 each session. Family session suitable for younger children – ideal for family/friends bubbles.  4.30-6.30pm. ENPA event. Enquiries to Katrina on KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk .

Friday 30th October  – 7.30-9.30pm Moonlit Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor.

Be part of a small group to enjoy a guided walk with a National Park Ranger under a moon-lit and starry sky. Hear from our Ranger Charlotte Wray about her love of moths and why they’re important to the environment. Learn how to set up your own moth trap and identify different species. Join astronomer Jo Richardson for a presentation about the moon (which should be in full view), its craters and hear the latest space travel stories!  Weather permitting and with Jo’s help, there’s a chance of some guided stargazing. Numbers limited to 25 each session. Adults and older children session – ideal for family/friends bubbles.  7.30-9.30pm. ENPA event  Enquiries to Katrina on KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk .