The winter Dark Sky information panel at Minninglow car park

The winter Dark Sky information panel at Minninglow car park

Stargazers in the Peak District won’t be kept in the dark thanks to two new information boards provided to guide their viewing.

The park’s authority has installed two new panels at popular spots where visitors can survey the night sky away from the light pollution found in towns and cities.

The Dark Sky panels, which will be changed seasonally, can be found close to Arbor Low stone circle and Minninglow burial mound, where the Peak District National Park Authority said the position of the stars seemed significant to Neolithic ancestors more than 4,000 years ago.

The boards have been placed in car parks beside the High Peak Trail at Parsley Hay off the A515 near Hartington and at Minninglow, off the A515 at Pikehall.

Peak District Dark Skies co-ordinator Sue Smith said: “The national park’s night skies can be up to 15 times darker than nearby towns and cities so the stars are much more visible here.

“We hope people can use these panels to explore the universe and understand how the stars relate to these special landscapes.”

Object to look out for in the January southern night sky include the constellation Orion and planet Jupiter. Orion the hunter is recognisable by his belt and sword, a line of three stars with three stars that ‘hang’ beneath it, while Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, appears as a bright pink star to the left of Orion.

Ms Smith said: “The Peak District’s dark skies mean that planets, constellations, meteor showers and even satellites can be seen with the naked eye or ordinary binoculars, an experience that can be rare nowadays in other parts of the UK.

“We’d like to thank Nottingham Trent University, part of the Peak District Dark Skies Group, which obtained funding and helped design the panels.

“The group includes professional and amateur astronomers with a keen interest in safeguarding the night skies in and surrounding the national park from inappropriate lighting.”

The new panels add to an existing Dark Sky panel at Surprise View car park, between Hathersage and Sheffield, installed in 2012.

More details are on the Peak District authority’s website. http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/darkskies

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