Marlborough Town Council and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are hosting the first Marlborough Dark Skies Fest in October this year. Opening on October 25 and culminating on the weekend of October 30/31 there will be a jam packed programme of science and art activities celebrating the night sky.
When the Dark Skies Fest was cancelled last year, due to the pandemic, a successful and informative virtual festival was held in its place and gave a taste of what we can expect this year. The Marlborough Downs area doesn’t suffer too greatly from light pollution and the Fest aims to encourage residents and visitors to look upwards, to marvel at some of the beauty, art and science of the night sky that would normally go unnoticed.
BBC’s The Sky at Night presenter, Prof Chris Lintott, is the guest speaker and there will be an opportunity to visit the Blackett Observatory – the world’s oldest computerised telescope at Marlborough College.
Cllr Don Heath from Marlborough Town Council said, “We are really excited about the festival which will be a magical and memorable experience for all involved, especially for children. We hope to set people on a journey of discovery and future action to preserve dark skies.”
Events across the week and weekend (mostly free) will stretch throughout the day and into the evening at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues across the town. These events will include:
- Stargazing by night and Solar Astronomy by day
- A tour of the night sky in an immersive Planetarium
- Learning about the solar system and taking photos using your phone, trying your hand at sketching the stars, creating sand patterns from the sound of a star
- Family fun with art workshops, storytelling, becoming a space detective
- A wide range of talks from getting started in astronomy, life aboard the International Space Station, astronomical alignments of Stonehenge, wildlife of the night, and mapping & minimising light pollution
- Exhibitions throughout the weekend from local astronomy groups, astrophotography, meteorites, protecting dark skies, astro jewellery and more
Interest in the night sky has been growing in recent years, with TV series such as Prof. Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe, as well as the BBC’s long running Sky at Night. Dark Sky festivals take place in several National Parks across the UK, and the International Dark Sky Places programme now has over 130 protected areas across the globe.
With financial help from The Arts Council England, The Royal Astronomical Society, The British Astronomical Association, and Wiltshire Council – Local Youth Network, Marlborough Dark Skies Fest is an opportunity to celebrate the night sky around Marlborough, and to inspire both visitors and locals to keep our dark skies dark!
For more information contact Clare Harris – Assistant Town Clerk at Marlborough Town Council firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01672 512487