Blissful peace in the dark of the night, away from the beaming lights and the ever-growing noise of the city. Silence. It’s just you and the stars in the sky. As the earth moves around the sun, the map of stars changes night-by-night, they are ever-changing and the possibilities of what we can see are positively mindblowing. By taking a trip to one of these wonderful places, you will be able to develop a whole new love and understanding for the world that we live in.
Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve
Address: Libanus, Brecon LD3 8ER
Starting off our list with one of the best stargazing spots that the UK has to offer, sharing some of the highest quality dark skies. From this particular spot, it is possible to see the milky way, bright nebulas, huge constellations and sometimes meteor showers. This, however, is not always guaranteed. If you’re contemplating a visit, maybe read up on the sky calendar to assess what you want to see and when is best to do so. A clear sky is the real thing that you need to be wishing for. Visiting this reserve is a highly popular choice due to the incredible efforts of the surrounding community, to reduce light pollution.
Northumberland National Park
Address: Eastburn, South Park, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 1BS
Northumberland pride themselves on hosting one of the best places to stargaze. Due to their low levels of light pollution, combined with the local commitment to conserve the dark skies… the views that you can get here are just phenomenal. On a clear night at this spot, you may have the opportunity to an exciting variety of constellations with the naked eye. On a particularly good night, you will see the Milky Way and even have a chance at viewing the Andromeda galaxy (which is over 2.5 million light years away, wow!).
Galloway Forest Park
Address: Galloway Forest, Creebridge, Newton Stewart DG8 6AJ
Galloway forest park was the first dark sky park in the UK. It has been named a “gold tier park” for its breathtaking and rare stargazing conditions. There are very few people that live in the surrounding areas of the park, leading to really dark nights and exceptional scenes. The region of darkness covers 300 square miles, you can’t complain about that… wow!! Towards the edge of the forest lies an observatory too, a beacon of many public stargazing events!
The Antrim Coast
Address: Murlough Road, Ballycastle, County Antrim, BT54 6RG
There are many stunning destinations available in Northern Ireland, whether that be throughout the day or night. But we are interested in the night and where is best to get that picture-perfect view of the space that surrounds us! The local light pollution of this area is equivalent to a dark site location and Gostargazing.co.uk gives you the perfect understanding of which days are best to visit. There is a summary of the moon phases, length of darkness as well as a list of upcoming events.
Cairngorms National Park
Address: Cairngorms National Park Authority, 14 The Square, Grantown on Spey, Scotland, PH26 3HG
One of the most magnificent facts about this stargazing venue is that it is actually the same latitude as other hotspots such as Alaska and Norway! Due to its Northern latitude, there are sights available here that would be extremely difficult to find down south. The biggest selling point for a lot of people is the potential to see one of the dark skies most beautiful shows… the Aurora Borealis, most commonly known as The Northern Lights. Of course, this is not guaranteed but choosing the right time and thinking about taking an expert on your visit would be sensible!
North York Moors National Park
Address: North York Moors National Park Authority, The Old Vicarage, Bondgate, Helmsley, York, North Yorkshire – YO62 5BP
Located on the eastern side of the UK, the North York Moors National Park is typically a drier climate, hosting a vast expanse of unpolluted sky. Due to its climate, astronomers agree that it can be a haven for stargazers. The park is the perfect destination for watching meteor showers, lunar eclipses and even watch out for super moons.
Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve
Address: Dulverton, TA22 9HL
This year will see Exmoor celebrate ten years of being designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Over the past ten years, Exmoor has gone above and beyond to make sure that anyone that visits their venue will have the best time. From astronomers guides to run-throughs on how you can use their telescopes correctly (which you can also hire at a very reasonable rate), they are seriously providing an experience to their visitors. Additionally, a calendar for arranged walks and dark-night friendly accommodation is also provided on their site.
South Downs National Park
Address: North St, Midhurst, GU29 9DH
2016 saw South Downs National Park granted the latest membership into the International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR). This wonderful park encourages its admirers to understand the importance of protecting both the landscapes and rolling hills as well as the skies that surround us. Every year in February, South Downs National Park also hosts a two-week festival in which they promote stargazing and allow people to learn much more about stars through seminars, talks and sessions with experts.
Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve
Address: Snowdonia National Park Authority,
National Park Office, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd. LL48 6LF
Snowdonia’s dark sky status was awarded in 2015 after a community effort to reduce light pollution. Snowdonia covers 18% of Wales’ land area so locals found it so important to protect it, resulting in remarkable scenery throughout the day and night. Wales prides itself on owning two international dark sky reserves. Stargazers rave about this place and you should too! Why not visit and watch the sunset before allowing your eyes to wander off into the visions of space… perhaps you’ll even be able to make a wish on a shooting star!
Isle of Coll
Address: Isle Of Coll, Scotland, PA78 6TB
This beautiful stargazing spot can also be defined as a ‘dark sky island’ with the large majority of it resembling the skies in their darkest limits. There is also a fabulous voyage that you can book which is a collaboration between Coll Bunkhouse and Cosmos Planetarium. The to-day voyage consists of approximately ten hours of stargazing activities and learning, supported by experts within the field. If you would like to give it a try, head over to collbunkhouse.com.