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South Downs stargazing festival

Catch astronomy events throughout Sussex during the South Downs Dark Skies Festival this February

Wrap up warm and head for the hills for the Dark Skies Festival – the annual celebration of the South Downs being designated a dark sky site. Between Fri 9 and Sun 25 Feb 2018 there are several guided stargazing events and tie-in activities in Sussex, many free or low cost and most family-friendly.

Some events will be weather dependent so do check before you go, especially if it’s cloudy. Some will need to be booked ahead. Here are the key things going on in Sussex. If you live near Hampshire do check out the festival website for more events over the border.

Get along to stargazing and indoor talks and activities including astrophotography  ‘how to’ sessions at Midhurst Rother College, West Sussex on Sat 10 Feb. This Darks Skies flagship event kicks off from 16.00. You can find out about nocturnal wildlife and meet live bats with Sussex Wildlife Trust, try activities from the Novium’s Tim Peake exhibition and there will be children’s craft activities.

Catch a show at South Down’s Planetarium in Chichester between 11 and 18 Feb on various themes including the Northern lights, alien life and Hubble’s view of the universe.

Borrow telescopes and binoculars at a Stargazing Party with hot chocolate and nibbles at Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve on Fri 16 Feb and Fri 16 March.

Peek through some of the largest working telescopes in the country at The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux on Fri 16 Feb and an open evening the following day.

Combine a night hike to Beacon Hill on the South Downs Way with a stargazing session, at the National Trust’s Harting Down on Mon 19 Feb.

There are also South Downs Dark Skies Festival stargazing sessions on weekends at Battle Abbey between 3 and 25 Feb; at Amberley Museum on Sat 17 Feb, Devil’s Dyke near Brighton on Tues 20 Feb;  Goodwood on Thurs 22 Feb and at Eastbourne’s Redoubt Fortress on Sat 24 Feb.Find out more about the festival at



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