Starry, starry night

Date: Monday 12th March 2018
Pupils from Brough School who took part in the dark skies project.
Pupils from Brough School who took part in the dark skies project.

SCHOOLS in Eden joined a Dark Skies Winter Celebration project and explored winter and the night sky through art, photography and poetry.

The Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme, funded by Heritage Lottery, invited schools to take part in the project which coincided with the Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Festival 2018.

Children from a number of schools visited a mobile indoor planetarium at Maulds Meaburn and Kirkby Stephen. Children from Orton, Tebay, Crosby Ravensworth, Great Asby, Shap, Kirkby Stephen primary, Brough and Kirkby Stephen grammar had the opportunity to learn about the night sky with the aid of specialised visual and audio equipment designed to provide an immersive 360-degree experience from Richard Lake, of Polestar Planetarium.

Nicola Estill, from Friends of the Lake District, said: “It was a fantastic experience. We visited the Moon, Sun and planets, finishing with a tour of the constellations and our night sky.”

Children also learned about the hostile environments on other planets.

In total, 508 people learned a little more about dark skies — 422 children, 31 teachers and 55 people who attended an evening show. Following on from the evening show people went outside and, with a clear sky in Maulds Meaburn, and under the expert guidance of a local astronomer, Stuart Atkinson, saw Orion’s belt, the Plough and the North Star.

Some of the schools will also be taking part in a follow-up art project over the next few weeks with Cumbria-based artists Rob and Harriet Fraser.

The art project will bring together Orton, Tebay, Crosby Ravensworth and Great Asby schools.

Using art, poetry, performance and photography, children will work in collaboration to create a brief film clip sharing their thoughts and feelings about the Westmorland Dales winter landscape, short days, long nights and dark skies.

They will be encouraged to go outside in the dark and record their observations, to think about how people prepared for winter and long dark nights in the past and how street lighting has distorted our view of the stars.