14 July 2016

If it’s the thousands of stars in the night time sky you want to see, then you need to get away from the inner cities and villages. Head out if you can into the countryside, far away from the intrusive light polluted skies of our cities - the ones that turn the clouds orange at night.

It is a little known fact that over 70% of the UK adult population have never seen the Milky Way, or the thousands of stars that fill our skies night after night. I’d like to change that by giving a little advice on where best to go.

Here are the best locations to go and get a glimpse of the night sky in the UK.

Kielder Observatory

Of course this has to be the Kielder Observatory; where else? Nestled in the Northumberland hills lies this stargazer’s retreat, with thousands flocking to visit the largest expanse of protected dark skies in Europe.

kielder observatory

Kielder Observatory

Isle of Sark

The world’s first dark sky island. With no street lights these skies are completely dark, and as the island is in the channel, in late summer or autumn you will get a superb glimpse of the galactic center.

Galloway Forest Park  

Just over the border form Kielder Observatory, this dark sky park offers great views of the northern skies.

Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest Park

The Lake District

With its huge expanses of unspoilt countryside, a spot can be found anywhere in this region. Minimal light pollution ensures a great view of the night sky, with glimpses of meteors and planets as well as stars.

Exmoor National Park

In 2011 it was granted dark sky reserve status, so again a good southern spot for stargazing.

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park

North Norfolk

Around Cromer the skies are very dry and normally very clear. From here I used to travel to the Starcamps organised by Norwich astronomical society.

Washington Wetlands Centre

Here you will find the Cygnus observatory where the Sunderland astronomical society operates. They are without doubt the finest group of amateur astronomers out there, so go visit them!

Mid Wales

Around the Powys region is the best as it has one of the lowest readings of light pollution levels in the UK.

North Yorkshire Moors

Scarborough and Rydale astronomical society run the equinox star camp from Dalby forest in the spring and autumn; it’s a vast forest and very dark.

North Yorkshire Moors

North Yorkshire Moors

Romney Marsh

Famed for its churches and villages, this region has great dark skies and is not too far a commute. It’s a definite choice for stargazing for me.

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