Northumberland National Park is working together with CLIF Bar to launch a new initiative that aims to inspire a new generation of stargazers following the launch of the first virtual Northumberland Dark Skies Festival.
The Park was one of five National Parks in the UK to receive a grant from CLIF Bar as part of their National Parks Protectors Fund, receiving a £10,000 grant to support the Park’s Dark Skies conservation projects. The projects help to raise public awareness of the issues of light pollution, and the need to help conserve the pristine dark skies.
Some of the grant is now being used to educate the next generation on dark skies and the importance of conservation. The Park has created a Dark Sky Discovery Loans Box, available to any schools within the county to borrow and use in the classroom for up to 4 weeks. The box includes a light meter, a piece of meteorite, binoculars, red and white light torches, constellation guides, nocturnal wildlife information, and a replica bronze age sky disk.
To celebrate the new initiative, and to run alongside the first virtual Northumberland Dark Skies Festival, the Park is launching a competition, asking children between 5-12 to create their very own dark skies art at home using any materials. The winner will take home their own personal stargazing starter kit, as well as getting the Dark Sky Discovery loan box for their school.
Rachel Baron, Northumberland National Park Education Officer said: “We are excited to be working with CLIF Bar to help launch this exciting new initiative to help educate and inspire the next generation of stargazers.
“Northumberland is home to the UK’s first and largest dark sky park, meaning it’s incredibly important we teach children about the benefits of night sky and what we can do to conserve its beauty.
“We hope this competition and the Dark Skies Festival as a whole will help young people to realise the beauty that hangs above us and how it needs to be preserved for many more generations to come.”
The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is gearing up to host its first-ever Dark Skies Festival, from February 12th-21st, the festival will be hosted on the Northumberland National Park website and led by four regional observatories: Battlesteads, Kielder, Stonehaugh, and Twice Brewed. There will be a wide variety of things to see and do to help people stargaze from the comfort of their homes and neighbourhood.
For more information about the competition and to submit entries, go to https://www.thesill.org.uk/