Marlborough’s first Dark Skies Fest, scheduled for October 2 to October 4, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. In its place a very informative virtual festival, ‘Marlborough Dark Skies Fest ‘At Home’, was held on Saturday October 3.
Many of the speakers from the original festival were keen to support the virtual initiative. This allowed 11 videos to be created all of which were pre-recorded and ran as scheduled posts on social media, linking to a newly created ‘Marlborough Dark Skies Fest’ YouTube channel. The videos are still available to be viewed on YouTube here
The Dark Skies Fest ‘At Home’ focussed on Children, Wildlife, Space, Dark Skies/Light Pollution, Stargazing and the Arts. Viewers were able to embark on ‘A Cosmic Adventure’ with local astronomer and astrophotographer, Gavin James. Gavin also contributed to ‘A Beginners guide to Astronomical Observing’ together with Charles Barclay, Director of the Blackett Observatory which is situated at Marlborough College.
Mary McIntyre a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and amateur astronomer, astrophotographer and sketcher based in Oxfordshire, demonstrated moon sketching. Other videos included ‘Dark Sky Friendly Lighting’ and ‘Nocturnal Stonebridge’ which introduced viewers to the wildlife going about their business in and around the River Kennet when darkness falls.
Clare Harris, Assistant Town Clerk, said, “Marlborough Dark Skies Fest ‘At Home’ would not have been possible without the support and generosity of all the contributors, all of whom are committed to attending next year’s festival in person.
The virtual festival was a new concept to many of us and at times a steep learning curve, but it all came together and we now have a platform to build on going forward.
Whist the viewing figures were not ‘through the roof’, the videos on YouTube have, to date, had 598 views and there has been consistent, positive engagement on our dedicated Facebook page. We will continue to promote and share these videos for future viewing.”
The 2021 Marlborough Dark Skies Fest will take place from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October 2021.