Forest of Bowland has wow factor for star gazers

Night sky at Beacon Fell
Night sky at Beacon Fell
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The Forest of Bowland has been named as one of the best places for star gazing in the country.

Four sites in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have been given Dark Sky Discovery Site status.

The title, bestowed by the Dark Sky Discovery Partnership, managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, is given to places within the UK that are both dark and easily accessible, but where it is possible to observe the spectacle of the Milky Way or the constellations, such as Orion, with the naked eye.

In the Forest of Bowland, the four sites are Beacon Fell Country Park, Crook O’Lune Picnic Site, Gisburn Forest Hub and Slaidburn Village Car Park.

Hetty Byrne, Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Officer said: “They are accessible sites, with good sightlines and relatively low light pollution, giving people the best possible conditions to just turn up and see the stars on a clear night.”

The AONB has been working with local physicist and amateur astronomer Robert Ince, who has assessed the night skies, how they are affected by light pollution and identified the best and darkest places to star gaze. The process involved consultation with land owners and local authorities to gain their support for the project.

During 2016 Robert will offer a series of star gazing events and workshops through the Festival Bowland programme.

He said: “I love showing people the night skies, in the Forest of Bowland you can literally see thousands of stars; It has a real wow factor!

“Everyone can enjoy stargazing with a pair of binoculars and some basic information on how to get started, including star maps.”