UK Star Gazing

Light pollution in the UK
Credit: Night Blight
 

It's amazing how much you can see in the sky when it’s really dark. You can observe thousands of stars, distant galaxies, and even see our own galaxy, the Milky Way. It’s possible to find dark skies wherever you live. You just need to get away from bright lighting, like street lights. And hope for good weather, of course!

You can look for the best places near you using dark sky maps like Dark SkyNight Blight or Dark Sky Discovery.

 

The Best of the UK and Ireland

We have picked out some of the best places in the UK and Ireland for stargazing. The International Dark-Sky Association has certified some of these areas. Certified places have low levels of light pollution and good public access. Many of these places host stargazing events.

 

England

  • Cranborne Chase, Dorset –  Dark enough to see the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy.
  • Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve – Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.
  • North York Moors National Park – This area contains three Dark Sky Discovery sites: The Moors National Park Centre, Sutton Bank National Park Centre and Dalby Observatories.
  • Northumberland Dark Sky Park – Stargazers can also visit the Kielder Observatory.
  • South Downs National Park – Moore’s Dark Sky Reserve in the South Downs is named after astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

 

Northern Ireland

  • Antrim Coast – The north coast is home to the Giant’s Causeway but also has the darkest night skies on the island of Ireland.
  • Davagh Forest Park and Beaghmore Stone Circles – The Forest offers an observatory and visitor centre, as well as Bronze Age stone circles.
  • Oxford Island National Nature Reserve, Armagh – The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is nearby.

 

Republic of Ireland

  • Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve – The area’s location between mountains and the ocean provides natural protection against light pollution.
  • Mayo International Dark Sky Park – On a clear night in Mayo, you can see over 4,500 stars.

 

Scotland

  • Cairngorms Dark Sky Park – The Glenlivet and Tomintoul area provides the best easy access to dark skies in the Cairngorms.
  • Coll Dark Sky Island – The UK’s first International Dark Sky Park, the island of Coll has no street lights.
  • Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park – The first place to become a Dark Sky Park in the UK. It contains the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.
  • Moffat, Dumfriesshire – This town made changes to local outdoor lighting policies to ensure great dark skies.

 

Wales

  • Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve – Home to the first International Dark-Sky Reserve in Wales.
  • Elan Valley Dark Sky Park – 45,000 acres of land protected against light pollution.
  • Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve – North Wales in naturally one of the darkest places in Britain.