Villagers in Talybont-on-Usk have organised their own star-studded evening for lovers of the night sky in a joint initiative with Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society and their partners at Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, the Usk Astronomical Society and the University of Glamorgan.
Powys County Council has already agreed to temporarily switch off street lighting in the area on Friday, November 9, while local residents are being invited to turn off the lights in their homes for a few hours to reduce light pollution and experience the truly amazing dark skies above the village.
This is the first community star-party to celebrate the bid to gain International Dark Sky Reserve status – which is being led by both the Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society and the National Park Authority. Only a handful of international destinations have been granted the highly prestigious Dark Skies status. If the National Park wins it, this would create new opportunities for tourism, the local economy, and protect the view of the region’s magical night skies for future generations.
The community stargazing fun begins at 18.00 on Friday, November 9 with a pre-booked experience for local schools and youth groups.
The main public event then begins at 19.00 – with three hours of entertainment exploring the amazing night sky above the village of Talybont-on-Usk. The event will be hosted at the aptly-named Star Inn, where stargazers can touch real meteorites and access a range of telescopes to explore the Milky Way with expert operators from Usk Astronomical Society and the University of Glamorgan. Nearby Henderson Hall will be home to an amazing digital planetarium and star gazing show to bring the night sky to life.
If all that isn’t enough, tickets also include a warming baked potato supper and the premier performance of the official Bannau Brycheiniog Dark Skies Song created by singer Angharad – not to be missed.
Jim Wilson, Chairman of Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society, said: “The local community have been fantastically co-operative throughout our project to counter light pollution and gain International Dark Sky Reserve accreditation for our Park, we’re very appreciative of all the support.
“The whole Dark Skies concept really seems to have captured the imagination of people living here and if we’re successful, it’s something we can all be proud to be a part of. It’s great to see communities like Talybont really getting involved and creating their own opportunities for people living locally, and visitors for that matter, to see just how special the dark skies above the Park really are.”
Ruth Coulthard, Funding Development Manager for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “We are enthused by the local residents getting on board and joining us in the community switch off to limit light pollution and make the skies as dark as possible for this special event. To gain this accreditation for the National Park would bring many benefits to all who live and visit here and it is great to be celebrating with local residents in this way.”
Margaret Underwood, Member for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “It is wonderful to see so many residents relishing the opportunities already on offer to them living in the National Park – opportunities to see the night sky properly with only minimal light pollution. Dark Skies accreditation would be a fantastic recognition for the National Park but it is partly about recognising what we already enjoy.”
Tickets for the main event are charged at £10 for adults, £5 for 12-16-year-olds, and include entry to the digital planetarium and a hot baked potato. Event tickets can be purchased from The Star Inn or Talybont Stores. Contact Anna on 01874 676635 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Tickets are limited and are expected to sell fast, so book early to avoid disappointment.