Orion is perhaps the most well-known winter star pattern, but the Lake District gives us the rarest of opportunity to see some of the lesser-known celestial delights. There’s climbing a mountain to reach England’s rooftop to sit amongst the stars and capture the rarest of photos – a snap of our sister galaxy, Andromeda.
Deep within Grizedale Forest, you are well protected from light pollution giving a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness all sorts of heavenly sights, such as Mercury in transit or Jupiter’s moons and even the famous Aurora. Or, there’s spotting the Winter Hexagon or Polaris from the otherworldly location of Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the earliest in Britain and is thought to be an ancient astronomical observatory. There are lots of different ways to plan a holiday around stargazing.
Here in the UK, we have some of the largest ‘dark sky reserves’ in Europe. Hopefully soon to be added to the list of four official UK dark sky reserves is the Lake District. Awarded by the International Dark Sky Association, this accolade is no easy feat especially with light pollution increasing, rising by 2% every year for the last four years, sadly. The protection of rural areas with ‘dark sky status’ preserves mankind’s oldest natural wonder that is the starry night sky – a natural phenomenon that 85% of the UK may no longer see at home. It’s not just humans that miss out – 50% of animals in the UK are nocturnal, relying on the night sky for their feeding and breeding patterns.
Night photography is possible even with some very basic kit.