Marlborough’s first Dark Skies Fest has been a huge success with thousands enjoying the galaxy of talks, exhibitions and outdoor events on offer – most of them free. Cllr Don Heath, who was Chair of the organising committee, said, “We have been overwhelmed by the response – many events sold out online as soon as the bookings went live.”
The sell-out events included the spectacular Museum of the Moon, a seven metre inflated Moon/art installation hanging in Marlborough College Chapel, and keynote speaker, Professor Chris Lintott (BBC Sky at Night, University of Oxford).
It’s been a busy week for Charles Barclay, Head of Astronomy and Director of the Blackett Observatory at Marlborough College. In his talk which opened the Dark Skies Fest on Friday October 29 he said, “Dark skies make an enormous difference to the environment. Light Pollution is as pernicious as plastic. Light pollution breaks the natural cycle of things diminishing insect species as hunters can hunt for longer.
It is difficult to get away from light in the northern hemisphere. However, light pollution is something we can do something about. Only airports have an excuse to shine light upwards.”
Dark Skies are our human heritage. They transcend culture, borders and religion and if we can’t see the night sky we are doing something wrong.”
There have been several attempts locally to improve our access to dark skies. Marlborough College has changed its Astro-turf pitch lights so they face down. Light pollution from street lights along London Road and Manton has improved due to new lights and the Redrow Estate, Marleburg Grange, has very low light pollution.
Over the weekend the Rockets and Rovers, Blast Off, Starry Night, to mention just a few of the workshops, together with a cosmic odyssey and storytelling kept many children engaged. Swindon Star Gazers and Bath Astronomers were on hand to offer advice to beginner astronomers and despite the first evening’s star gazing on the Common and in Manton being cancelled due to inclement weather, Saturday’s went ahead.
Cllr Don Heath told Marlborough.news, “We’re very excited to bring this festival to Marlborough. I’d like to thank all those who came forward to share their knowledge and skills and also the many sponsors whose support allowed us to offer free entry to the majority of the events. It is hoped that a Dark Skies Fest can be held every other year.”