StarFest 2022 – Dark Skies Festival full timetable launched today

14th January 2022

Cranborne Chase AONB International Dark Sky Reserve hosts Dark Skies Festival from 21-26 February

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Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), an International Dark Sky Reserve designated in 2019, is hosting a week-long Dark Skies Festival over the February 2022 half-term to help people learn more about dark skies and introduce all ages to the wonders of stargazing, space and celestial stories.


StarFest 2022 is open to everyone and there is something for all ages. The events, most of which will be held online, range from basic astronomy, through to star tales for children and adults, to light pollution reduction, art workshops and stargazing.

Steve Tonkin, an astronomer and the Dark Sky Advisor to Cranborne Chase, said: “If you’ve wanted to know more about our dark skies but were too afraid to ask, this is the festival for you.

“I’ll be hosting an introduction to astronomy, there are children’s art activities, astrophotography, we have a UK Space Ambassador joining us and we’re running a workshop on light pollution to explain how we can all do our bit to help make our dark skies even darker for environmental and health benefits.

“We have created some new events this year, building on StarFest 2021, which includes an introduction to observing deep sky for absolute beginners, some art workshops as part have experts across all areas of dark skies and astronomy ready and waiting to welcome you to this event.”

Stargazing: A Beginner’s Guide with Steve Tonkin – Monday 21 February at 7.30pm on Zoom 

This is a beginner’s guide to stargazing with tips on good apps to use as well as how to use a simple ‘planisphere’ to help you understand the night sky. Tickets are free

Sketch constellation and make your own Milky Way with Mary McIntyre – Tuesday 22 February at 4pm on Zoom  

Learn how to draw constellation and make your own Milky Way model with this fun, online art activity, suitable for ages 7+. Mary is an amateur astronomer and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

An Introduction to Astrophotography with DSLRs and telescopes with Mary McIntyre – Tuesday 22 February at 7.30pm on Zoom 

Always wanted to know more about astrophotography? Join astrophotographer Mary McIntyre, who will teach you how on this step-by-step Zoom workshop

Become a Dark Sky Ranger for Kids – Wednesday 23 February at 10.00am with Jo Richardson

This event is just £5 and promises to be great fun for all those budding astronauts out there. Suitable for ages 4-11. Jo Richardson is one of 10 UK Space Ambassadors and represents the South West. Jo is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Book online at

The Right Light at Night with Steve Tonkin – Wednesday 23 February at 7.30pm on Zoom 

Hear about the solutions to artificial light at night to help save, money, energy and reduce carbon emissions

Starry, Starry Nights Art Activities for Kids (suitable for ages 4-11) at Coombe Bissett Village Hall

Join our Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership Scheme team and volunteers for a two-hour art workshop. This will be a star, planets and dark skies inspired, fun and hands-on art session. This event has limited spaces, please book online at

Storytelling & Stargazing at Coombe Bissett Thursday 24 February from 7pm

Join our astronomers and storyteller, Lizzie Bryant for a celestial evening of stories and stars. This event has limited spaces available, please book online at

Deep Sky Observing for Absolute Beginners with Steve Tonkin – Friday 25 February at 7.30pm on Zoom 

Join us on a tour of celestial treasures, ranging from sparkling star clusters to distant galaxies, many of which are within easy reach of simple beginner telescopes or even hand-held binoculars

Star Walk Stories – Saturday 26 February from 7.30pm on Zoom 

Dorset-based storyteller Lizzie Bryant, digs into her treasure trove of stories to bring you her adventures in the night sky. A great way to end StarFest 2022.

For anyone space-obsessed or for those looking to learn more about the sky at night, look no further.