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Exploring the Wonders of Devon's Dark Skies: An Opportunity for Stargazers

Dark sky destination - stargazing holidays

Relaxing in a comfy hammock in the evenings, gazing up at the twinkling skies above you is a great way to unwind & feel present…

New in the Linhay for you this year are some fantastic binoculars. As well as being able to get up close and personal with the many birds & wildlife on your doorstep, on a clear night you’ll be able to see wonderful views of the Milky Way, star clusters, bright galaxies and even the moons of Jupiter!

A star-filled sky is one of nature's most natural wonders. But they’re becoming harder than ever to experience.

If you live in an urban area you’ll be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night but in an area of low light pollution, such as here at the Linhay, you could see as many as 2,000 twinkling above you!

Our dark skies are some of the best in the UK & Devon has the darkest skies in England. With minimal light pollution, on a cloudless night you can see literally thousands of stars and astronomical sights such as the Milky Way, with the naked eye. There are also great for nocturnal animals too such as owls and bats – we have a lovely population of tawny owls who you will hear calling to each other, several species of bats including the rare greater horseshoe bat which feeds up and down the stream meadow.

As well as the binoculars, there’s a great book to help you identify what you can see and a Dark Sky section in our digital guest guide with lots of info and links to some fascinating websites. Be sure to download Google Skymap too. Autumn is a great time to see the Milky Way with sparkling star clusters in winter & galaxies in spring. The Andromeda galaxy is the furthest you might be able to see with binoculars and possibly the pinwheel galaxy. Try looking for Pleiades (the seven sisters) near the moon too.

Nearby Exmoor National Park was Europe’s first designated International Dark Sky Reserve in the UK by Dark Sky International (formerly International Dark Sky Association) We support the Big Dipper campaign to reduce light pollution by only illuminating areas we need to and using motion sensors, there's no lighting along the cart track to the Linhay so there are rechargeable head torches provided for you to borrow.

Take the time to visit Exmoor during their popular annual Dark Skies Festival, which runs every autumn and is hosted by Exmoor National Park Authority.

Websites to explore… Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. displays a world map showing light pollution and dark skies. Zoom in to find dark skies near you or look further afield and find the darkest places on the planet – and the most light polluted too. 

Want to see 'shooting stars'?

Check the table below and find dates for all the major meteor showers visible in the UK in 2024. Each entry includes the meteor shower name, the date of 'maximum' - when activity peaks - and the normal limits of when each meteor shower is visible.

The rate per hour gives some idea of how many meteors you can expect to see under optimum conditions, while the description gives some more detail about each meteor shower.

Information from the Royal Greenwich Museum where you’ll find details of where to look for the showers and the best way to see them.


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