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Poetry star to capture the beauty of Yorkshire’s Dark Skies in verse

One of the UK’s best known poets has been commissioned by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities to pen a poem celebrating the wonders of the county’s dark skies.

Ian McMillan, known as the ‘Bard of Barnsley’, will be drawing on his observations of stargazing and hunting down the Aurora Borealis, as well as the special qualities of the night sky in the areas of low light pollution found in both stunning national parks.

Ian McMillan, credit: Adrian Mealing

Ian McMillan, credit: Adrian Mealing

The verse will be completed just ahead of the two northern National Parks’ second joint Dark Skies Festival, a week-long event during February half-term (Saturday 18 to Sunday 26 February 2017).

Ian McMillan comments:

I’m very excited to be illuminating the Dark Skies Festival with the pure light of poetry, the only kind of light that doesn’t pollute or distract. My light verse will concentrate the mind and the eyes on the darkness!”

Milky Way and Perseid Meteor shower Sutton Bank (c) Russ Norman Photography

Milky Way and Perseid Meteor shower Sutton Bank (c) Russ Norman Photography

Planning is well underway for the expanded Dark Skies Festival which will include several new events such as a starlight cross-country run at Cote Ghyll Mill, Osmotherley, a stargazing evening run by the York Astronomical Society at the Yorkshire Arboretum, an opportunity to contribute to a huge dark skies painting at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and a family night hike around spectacular Semerwater.

A dark skies poetry competition will also be open to schools in and around the Yorkshire Dales National Park for all budding bards inspired by Ian McMillan’s words.

The event’s website has just gone live and will provide Festival goers with programme details.

The site also provides a wealth of information on getting the best out of stargazing in the national parks, including visiting one of the six Milky Way Class Dark Sky Discovery sites – Danby, Sutton Bank and Dalby Forest in the North York Moors and Hawes, Malham and Buckden in the Yorkshire Dales – which have sufficiently dark skies to view the galaxy with the naked eye.

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