It takes light from the nearest star system more than four years to reach earth. It seems impolite to not greet it properly once it arrives.

Sadly, much of this incoming light may be drowned out among a sea of street lamps once it finally reaches the UK, meaning that many of us won’t get to appreciate it in its full glory.

Thankfully, Grey Willow Yurts can help out.

Our campsite is situated in one of the best areas of the UK for gazing at the stars. Taking into account both levels of light pollution and the number of clear nights we receive per year, you’ll see that there are few better places to stare skywards than right here in the heart of the Blackdown Hills.

We’re also lucky enough to be situated very close to Europe’s very first designated International Dark Sky Reserve at Exmoor National Park. The park is only the second reserve in the world to be awarded this prestigious status, and represents an area that contains “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment”.



What to bring

Everyone can be a stargazer. Whether you’re an out-an-out novice, or an experienced astronomer, there are seemingly as many tools to help you learn more about the universe as there are stars in the sky.

You don’t even need special equipment to appreciate the wonders of the night sky (though it may help). The BBC has some wonderful resources to help you if you’re just starting out -- from downloadable star charts, to instructions on making your own telescope. Why not have a go and let us know what you saw when you visited us?

For those coming with smart phones, there are also some great apps around to help you spot which constellations and planets are visible in the night sky -- and where to spot them. Android users should download Google Sky Map, whilst those with iPhones should find Star Walk useful. You don’t even need to leave the warmth of your yurt if you don’t want to: by calculating your position on earth, these apps can let you explore the sky from indoors. Don’t forget to charge your phone before you leave though, as we have no electricity on site!

What to see*

The regular calendar of astronomical events is always full, from lunar eclipses to meteor showers, as well as glorious views of our neighbouring planets throughout the year. Why not have a look at what you might be able to see when you arrive? Whether you have binoculars, a telescope, or nothing at all, you’re sure to discover something to inspire you.

Where else to go

For those adventurous enough to brave the moors with your telescope at night, Exmoor National Park park is only around 15 miles away (as the comet flies). Find out more about stargazing events that might be happening when you arrive, over at the Exmoor Stargazers.

The BBC’s Stargazing Live also hosts regular activities in the UK throughout the year, so be sure to check whether there’s an event in the southwest during your stay with us.

If you’re an astronomical novice but still looking to learn more about the science behind the stars and constellations, the Bristol Planetarium may be able to help you navigate your way through space and time.

We also highly recommend the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath, if you’d like to learn a little more about Britain’s greatest family of astronomers. Here, you can visit the house where William Herschel first discovered the planet Uranus in 1781, built the greatest telescopes of his age, and “looked further into space than any human being did before”.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known Carl Sagan

Nobody really knows just how big the universe is, or even if ours is the only universe in existence. Light from some of the furthest known stars has taken more 14 billion years to reach us, and it is likely that these same stars ceased to exist long, long ago.

We really hope that you will be able to experience a small fraction of the wonderful expanse of space and stars in the night sky when you visit us. And if you do, we’d really love to know how you found it, and what you saw.

Send us pictures of your stargazing nights at Grey Willow Yurts, and we’ll share your adventures with the rest of the known universe.



*The quality of your stargazing experience will be dependent on the local weather conditions at the time. Whilst we try to do all we can to make your stay as enjoyable as possible, at the time of writing we haven’t yet figured out how to control the great British weather...



Thanks to Simon Harold :)