All Dalesman readers know that Yorkshire’s scenery is awe inspiring, particularly when it is bathed in sunshine, but after dark the views can take your breath away too.
On a crisp, clear night, in the heart of the Dales or the moors (preferably many miles from town or village), the dramatic beauty of a star-speckled sky can stir passion in even the most curmudgeonly of souls.
Thanks to ever-increasing light pollution it is a sad fact that many modern-day city dwellers never get to witness the true majesty of the night sky which really needs to be observed in rural isolation.
This wasn’t a problem 200 years ago, when the closest Yorkshire got to light pollution was the occasional flickering of an oil lantern.
In this month’s Dalesman, we turn our gaze on the unpolluted night-skies of two centuries ago and learn about John Goodricke of York, who battled against adversity to become a gifted astronomer at a remarkably young age.
If you are inspired by his story to do a spot of star-gazing yourself we also print a chart to help you make sense of one small part of the night sky.
Much of our electric light pollution originates from a string of giant power stations dotted around the country. This month we visit the pretty village of Drax to discover what life is like on “Electric Avenue”, in the shadow of Britain’s biggest coal-fired power station.
Also in this issue, I’m delighted to welcome on board a new regular columnist, Peter McGrath, who will be bringing a breath of bracing North Sea air to the magazine every month with his Yorkshire Coast jottings.
I’m also chuffed to be reunited this month with a former colleague from my newspaper days, the multi-award-winning Stephen Garnett, whose stunning photographs we’ll be publishing on a regular basis.
As always, I believe there’s something for everyone in the pages that follow. I do hope you enjoy February’s Dalesman.
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TV presenter Tony Francis visits the village of Drax
Seeking out the Demon Star
Brian Jones tells the story of York astronomer John Goodricke
Life in the jet set
Howard Beck learns about Whitby jet in the latest of our Icons of Yorkshire series
Dedicated to wildlife
Lucy Oates meets a woman who has given over her home to animals
Preserving a dale’s past
Joanna Moody celebrates forty years of the Nidderdale Museum
Burns and the Yorkshireman
Gaynor Halliday investigates the county’s link to the Scottish bard
Welcome to Barlickshire
Matthew Engel ventures into Yorkshire’s disputed border territories
Beneath the big top
Steve Ward finds out more about two centuries of the circus in Yorkshire
Schooldays in the dales
Lessons and life in the Dales by best-selling author Andy Seed