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Dark Skies 

Light from distant galaxies can take thousands of years to reach us, so its a shame to lose it in the glare of a street lamp in the last millisecond of its journey. But in Mid Wales our skies are as dark as our nights are starry. And we aim to keep them that way. In fact Brecon Beacons National Park is the first place in Wales and only fifth in the whole world to be designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve, with Elan Valley being awarded designation a year later. So for a star-studded night that needn't cost the earth bring a flask of hot chocolate, a bite to eat, a pair of binoculars and a blanket and head to some of our favourite spots to see the best of our sparkly skies.

 

Or you could leave it to the experts and take a trip to the Spaceguard Centre at Knighton. Their telescopes are scanning the skies for Near Earth Objects - just in case any of them might be hurtling our way. 

Whats more lots of our 'places to stay' now provide telescopes and sky maps so you can snuggle up and stargaze amongst fluffy towels and comfy beds. 

Check out organised Go Star Gazing events here 

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Dark Skies 

Now that the entire Brecon Beacons National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve, we intend to preserve our night skies, reduce energy wastage, help protect nocturnal wildlife and hold events related to the fascinating topic of astronomy. You're very welcome to come and experience our dark skies for yourself.

Click here to visit the Brecon Beacons website 

Just 10% of the UK population can open their curtains to a truly dark sky at night.

The Welsh wilderness of the Elan Valley has, after several years hard work, been awarded  International Dark Sky Park status. Here the stars shine bright providing a dazzling backdrop for the abundance of nocturnal wildlife across our Estate.

 

There are a number of special events held throughout the year where you can learn about the constellations in the company of experts and enthusiasts. Great for youngsters, photographers and all of us who thrill to the natural wonder of our world.

On 17th July 2015 International Dark Sky Park-Silver Tier status was granted by the International DarkSky Association (IDA) based in Arizona, USA to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water's 70 sq mile Elan Valley Estate which is managed by The Elan Valley Trust.

For more information please visit the EV Astronomy website 

Myths and Legends of the Night Sky

Ah, the starry skies of Wales, where every twinkle tells a tale as old as time itself. Our ancient land is steeped in folklore and legend, and the stars above are no exception. So, gather 'round, fellow travellers, as we embark on a journey through the celestial wonders of Welsh star tales.

 

First, let's cast our gaze upon the constellation of Orion, known in Welsh mythology as "Y Cŵn Annwn" or "The Hounds of Annwn." Legend has it that these celestial hounds roam the night sky in search of lost souls, guided by the mighty hunter Orion himself.

 Their haunting barks echo across the heavens, warning mortals of impending danger and guiding the spirits of the departed to the Otherworld.

 

Next, let's turn our attention to the constellation of Cygnus, the majestic swan. In Welsh folklore, Cygnus is often associated with the story of "Lleu Llaw Gyffes," a legendary hero who was transformed into an eagle by his treacherous wife. As he soared through the night sky, his luminous feathers shimmered like stars, forever immortalised in the constellation of Cygnus.

 

And who could forget about the Pleiades, the famous star cluster also known as "Y Saith Seryn" or "The Seven Sisters" in Welsh mythology. According to legend, these seven stars represent the daughters of the giant Atlas, who were transformed into doves to escape the clutches of the fearsome hunter Orion. To this day, they continue to dance across the sky, a celestial tribute to sisterly love and unity.

 

Legend tells of Rhiannon, a goddess of beauty and compassion, who rode across the Welsh skies on her majestic white horse, illuminating the heavens with stardust. 

Together, they guided lost souls to their celestial resting place, leaving behind a trail of shimmering hoofprints that formed the Milky Way, known as "Ffordd y Llysywen," or "The Way of the White Horses." 

 

So, the next time you find yourself gazing up at the starry skies of Wales, remember that each constellation holds a story waiting to be told. 

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For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

Moon Phases

Skywatchers can anticipate a captivating journey through the lunar phases, offering a celestial spectacle of varying lunar faces throughout the year.

From the enchanting glow of the full moon casting its silvery light upon the Earth to the subtle crescents marking the beginnings and endings of lunar cycles, each phase holds its own allure and significance. As the moon waxes and wanes, transitioning from new moon to full moon and back again, it serves as a timeless reminder of the rhythmic dance of the cosmos.

 

Here are the full moon names and their corresponding dates for 2024:

 

  • Wolf Moon - January 25

  • Snow Moon - February 24

  • Worm Moon - March 25

  • Pink Moon - April 24

  • Flower Moon - May 23

  • Strawberry Moon - June 22

  • Buck Moon - July 21

  • Sturgeon Moon - August 19

  • Harvest Moon - September 18 - Supermoon 

  • Hunter's Moon - October 17 - Supermoon

  • Beaver Moon - November 15

  • Cold Moon - December 15

 

These full moon names have been passed down through generations and offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural and natural rhythms of the year. 

For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream

Sunrises and Sunset

The pristine air and stunning landscapes of Wales provide an idyllic backdrop for the captivating hues of sunrise and sunset.

Imagine starting your day to the melodic symphony of the dawn chorus, greeted by the warm embrace of golden sunbeams painting the sky. 

Then, as evening falls, witnessing the sun gracefully sinking into the timeless horizon, casting a fiery glow across the land. 

 

Within the National Parks, where breathtaking beauty meets the wonders of the night, the spectacle of dawn breaking and dusk settling is truly awe-inspiring. 

These moments offer a chance for contemplation, inviting us to ponder our place in the grand tapestry of life and the universe beyond. 

While sunrise and sunset may appear as the sun's ascent and descent, it's the Earth's motion that creates this illusion, a concept that once shaped ancient mythologies and beliefs. 

There's a serene peace that accompanies these celestial events, providing an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature's beauty and tranquility. 

Photographers and artists often speak of the "magic hours" surrounding sunrise and sunset, where the sun's warm glow accentuates the landscape's forms and textures, infusing it with a golden radiance. This special quality of light, with its vivid yet shadowy tones, transforms landscapes and reveals hidden treasures. The mesmerising colours of sunrise and sunset are a result of sunlight's interaction with the Earth's atmosphere, where shorter wavelengths scatter, leaving behind the rich oranges and reds that paint the sky. 

Whether capturing moments through photography, painting, or simply basking in nature's splendour, these golden hours offer an enchanting glimpse into the sublime beauty of the world around us.

Places to watch the sunrise and set

  • Pen y Fan: This iconic peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park offers stunning views of both sunrise and sunset, with its lofty summit providing a panoramic vista of the surrounding landscape.

 

  • Lake Vyrnwy: The tranquil waters of Lake Vyrnwy create a serene setting for watching the sun rise and set, with the expansive reservoir offering plenty of picturesque spots to enjoy the changing sky.

 

  • Hay Bluff: Situated on the edge of the Black Mountains, Hay Bluff provides sweeping views across the Welsh countryside, making it an ideal location for capturing both sunrise and sunset photos.

 

  • Llangorse Lake: Surrounded by rolling hills and woodlands, Llangorse Lake offers a peaceful setting for witnessing the beauty of both dawn and dusk, with the changing colours of the sky reflected in the tranquil waters.

 

  • Craig Cerrig-gleisiad: This dramatic rocky outcrop within the Brecon Beacons National Park provides a stunning backdrop for watching the sun rise and set, with its rugged cliffs and sweeping views.

 

  • Powis Castle: Set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens, Powis Castle offers a regal setting for experiencing both sunrise and sunset, with the historic walls bathed in golden light.

 

  • Elan Valley: With its expansive reservoirs and rolling hills, the Elan Valley provides countless opportunities for sunrise and sunset viewing, with the tranquil waters reflecting the colourful sky.

 

  • Offa's Dyke Path: Stretching along the Welsh-English border, Offa's Dyke Path offers scenic viewpoints overlooking the picturesque countryside, providing a perfect perch for witnessing both sunrise and sunset.

 

  • Radnor Forest: Tucked away in the heart of the Welsh countryside, Radnor Forest offers secluded spots to enjoy the beauty of both dawn and dusk, with the changing colours of the sky painting a breathtaking backdrop.

 

  • Glyndŵr's Way: This long-distance footpath winds its way through the rolling hills and valleys of Powys, offering plenty of opportunities to witness both sunrise and sunset from various vantage points along the trail.

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For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream

After Dark

The fun doesn't end when the sun goes down in Mid Wales. 

As twilight descends, a whole new world of nocturnal creatures emerges to explore the landscape under the cover of darkness.

 From elusive bats flitting through the night sky to the haunting calls of owls echoing through the woods, there's a host of wildlife waiting to be discovered after dusk. 

Badgers venture out from their setts to forage for food, while hedgehogs rustle through gardens in search of insects. Foxes stealthily patrol their territories, while moths dance around streetlights and porch lamps. Nightjars take to the air with their distinctive churring calls, and deer cautiously graze in moonlit meadows. 

Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, a night owl, or simply curious about the creatures that come out after dark, Mid Wales offers a thrilling nocturnal adventure waiting to be experienced. 

 

 

  • Bats: Powys is home to several species of bats, including common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles, and brown long-eared bats. These nocturnal mammals emerge at dusk to hunt insects, using echolocation to navigate and locate their prey.

 

  • Owls: Powys boasts a healthy population of owls, including barn owls, tawny owls, and little owls. These majestic birds of prey are most active during the night, using their keen senses of sight and hearing to hunt small mammals and birds under the cover of darkness.

 

  • Badgers: Badgers are a common sight in the woodlands and countryside of Powys. These nocturnal omnivores emerge from their setts after dusk to forage for food, feeding on earthworms, insects, fruits, and roots.

 

  • Hedgehogs: These iconic spiky mammals are often spotted in gardens and hedgerows throughout Powys. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, venturing out at night to search for food such as insects, slugs, and worms.

 

  • Foxes: Foxes are highly adaptable creatures found throughout Powys, from urban areas to rural farmland. These cunning predators are most active during the night, using their keen sense of smell and sharp eyesight to hunt for small mammals, birds, and insects.

 

  • Moths: Powys is home to a diverse array of moth species, many of which are nocturnal. These insects are attracted to artificial lights and can often be seen fluttering around street lamps, porch lights, and windows after dark.

 

  • Nightjars: These elusive birds are known for their distinctive churring calls and aerial hunting behavior. Powys is a prime habitat for nightjars, particularly in heathland and woodland areas, where they feed on flying insects during the twilight hours.

 

  • Deer: Roe deer and fallow deer are commonly found in the woodlands and fields of Powys. These graceful herbivores are most active during the early morning and late evening hours, making them a common sight for nocturnal wildlife enthusiasts.

For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream
  • 1) Stay cosy
    Wrap up warm, standing around staring at the skies and being lost in a sea of stars is magical.. but it is also cold. Warm socks, gloves, hats and thick soled boots are all really important and will make your star gazing experience that much more enjoyable. Take a flask of something hot with you so that you can sit and enjoy a warm drink whilst you wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
  • 2) Take a torch
    Red light torches are one of the best you can have for stargazing as they help to maximise your night vision and don’t overly stimulate your eyes. It doesn’t have to cost the earth to stare at the skies, you can get a torch with a red light facility quite cheaply - have a shop around.
  • 3) Know what you're looking at
    There are some incredible apps available now to help you determine which constellation it is that you are looking at and to help you find your bearings amongst the stars - think about downloading now before you set off One of our very favourites is the Night Sky App, which beautifully illustrates the night sky, planets, constellations and satellites and uses an augmented reality map (it also has the most calming music playing in the background, which you are able to turn off if you would like the silence of the dark) Night Sky (iOS: Free)
  • What is an FAQ section?
    An FAQ section can be used to quickly answer common questions about you or your business, such as “Where do you ship to?”, “What are your opening hours?” or “How can I book a service?” It’s a great way to help people navigate your site and can even boost your site’s SEO.

Events, News and Links 

Dark skies and light pollution in Wales 

Go Stargazing Events 

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