NINE days of astronomical events are to take place starting on Saturday, as the second annual North York Moors dark sky festival gets underway.

Visitors wanting a celestial half-term experience can head to the moors - or over to the Dales - where more than 100 events are being held across 21 different locations within the two national parks.

The festival’s line-up includes a dark skies run, a night road cycle ride, an opportunity to create a Northern Lights painting, a space-themed cinema evening sitting in a deckchair by the beach, rocket making, model moon buggy racing, and astro-photography sessions.

There are also opportunities to stargaze in the company of expert astronomers at beauty spots including Yorkshire Arboretum, Danby Castle and Boggle Hole in the North York Moors.

Catriona McLees, head of promotion and tourism at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “This year’s Dark Skies Festival builds on the success of the first event with a much-expanded programme of around 100 events right across the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.”

“Not only does the nine-day festival celebrate the beauty of our dark skies but also the wonders of the nocturnal world.

“Visitors will be able to stargaze, run, walk and cycle as well as explore the wildlife in our woods and moorland after dark, while youngsters will be able to join in a whole host of crafting sessions such as rocket-making or simply sit back and enjoy a space-themed cinema night.”

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