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NEWS RELEASE No: 1382529 JULY 2010

Take a journey to the dark side!

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man with large relescope

Bats, owls and twinkling stars are the set to be the crowd-pullers as the Forestry Commission stages its annual Nightwatch deep in Dalby Forest.

The nocturnal event on Saturday 7 August has become one of the most popular organised in the 8,600 acre woodland, near Pickering, celebrating the wonders of the dark side!

Powerful telescopes from Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society will be trained skywards to reveal heavenly wonders, including galaxies millions of light years away, dying stars and diamond like globular clusters. Eyes will also be peeled for shooting stars association with the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks a few nights later, and can look spectacular from the countryside.

Meanwhile, the hunt will be on for life on earth, with experts using harmless moth traps and electronic bat detectors. There will also be chance to enjoy an audience with a Barn owl called Sparky.

Ranger Mark Barker said:

“The forest at night is a magical place. The Milky Way arches overhead, a sight all too rare these days, while owls hoot and bats flutter through the air hunting for moths. Our Nightwatch in Dalby was the first staged anywhere in the UK by the Forestry Commission and it’s still going strong after 16 years!”

Because Dalby Forest is so dark it shows the night sky off to its best, but light pollution elsewhere is a problem for wildlife as well as stargazers. Bright lights have been shown to interfere with bats and owls when they hunt, while the increasingly rare glow worm gets confused during the breeding season by artificial lights, say experts.

The event is based at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre and runs between 8pm and 11.30pm. Booking is not required and the cost is £5 adults and £3 children (under 14 years old). Bring a torch, warm clothing and binoculars if you have them. For more go to or call 01751 472771.

1. Images: John Harper with a giant 12” telescope in one of the two gleaming white domes of the Dalby Observatory. 

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at

Richard Darn on. Mobile 0775 367 0038.

Issued on behalf of the Forestry Commission by Richard Darn, COI. tel: 0113 346 6085