EXMOOR'S brand new Dark Sky Discovery Hub welcomed its initial round of stargazers during the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival.

The observatory project was launched on Wimbleball Lake thanks to considerable funding from Exmoor National Park Authority, Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership and South West Lakes, an environmental and recreational charity.

This new facility has been set within Europe's first International Dark Sky Reserve on Exmoor.

Known as a Dark Sky Discovery Site, Wimbleball is the perfect spot to engage with the outdoors and the celestial world.

Somerset County Gazette: The hub has everything for stargazers to enjoy the skies

The hub is situated on the grassland overlooking the lake, equipped with low seating for visitors to recline and access panoramic views of the lake and sparkling skies.

It also features a circular flat patio-style platform at the front, designed for telescope use.

Neil Reeves of South West Lakes said: “Looking out over the lake at night is a magical experience. We’re delighted that visitors can now use this facility to rest, gaze upwards and watch the planets, spot constellations or see shooting stars. It’s also a great location for astrophotography and to learn about nocturnal wildlife.

“Hikers taking part in the Moonlit Walk for Exmoor on Friday, October 27 were among the Hub’s first night-time visitors.

"We’ll be developing a series of inspiring and educational events to take place all year and we’re grateful for funding support from Exmoor National Park Authority and Somerset Council through the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership, to help us develop the hub.

"It’s a fantastic addition to the activities on offer at the lake and for those staying at our campsite.”

Somerset County Gazette: Exmoor's brand new Dark Sky Discovery Hub welcomed its initial round of stargazers during the

The hub joins its counterparts at North Molton and Exford.

Katrina Munro from Exmoor National Park Authority said "We’re delighted that this facility increases the opportunities for visitors and residents to appreciate our dark skies. This will be our third Dark Sky Discovery Hub, joining those at North Molton and Exford. Each hub is unique, offering different opportunities to discover more.

"Along with our Dark Sky Discovery Trail, accredited Dark Sky Friendly businesses, and the annual Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, everyone can now enjoy our dark skies all year round."

Andrew Cockcroft, Hinkley Point C Senior Stakeholder Relations Manager, said: “The Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership has successfully supported a diverse set of initiatives to develop tourism across Somerset and this project is no exception. The new hub will help in opening up the incredible beauty of the night sky to many more people and we look forward to the benefits it will surely bring to the wider tourism industry.”

Managed by South West Lakes, Wimbleball annually draws around 200,000 visitors who enjoy water activities, walking, cycling, angling and experiencing the natural beauty of the area.