Often voted one of the most romantic things to do, we run down the best places in Britain to get a really good night sky view.
This blog entry follows on from the news that the island of Sark has been voted the world’s first “Dark Sky Island” because of the lack of light pollution allowing some of the best views of the stars.
However, if Sark is a little far away then there are still plenty of other places in the country which are far enough from the bright lights of the towns and cities to ensure you get a really good magical view of the stars.
1) Galloway Forest in South West Scotland has been recognised as one of the darkest places in Britain. It was even awarded the European “Dark Sky Park” putting it in the same league as Sark for star watching. You should have no troubles here seeing thousands of stars with the naked eye and the misty appearance of the Milky Way – my personal favourite.
2) Stonehenge in Wiltshire was possibly built in ancient times for watching the stars as they move around the sky depending who’s account you believe. Whatever the truth, at night Stonehenge has its own magic to add to the stargazing experience.
3) Kelling Heath in Norfolk offers clear night skies free from any light interferance and is so good that it hosts an annual Spring Star Party organised by the Norwich Astronomical Society. If you want to arrive in style, the Norfolk steam railway is close by.
4) The Spaceguard Centre & Observatory offers both an ideal if a little chilly location for star gazing, and regular tours of the observatory. The telescopes are located in Knighton, Mid Wales. This is possibly not the most ideal for Winter, but during the Summer it would make a really nice place to watch the skies.
5) Winsford Hill in Somerset is in the middle of Exmoor, but luckily a road runs to it so there’s no trekking for miles. Being so remote, there’s so little light pollution that this might well be up there with Galloway Forest in terms of majestic location and the best views in the country.
For a few other suggestions around Britain, see the Guardian web site.
On a clear night, you can often see hundreds or even thousands of stars from a low-light location, but if you want to take this a little further then Binocilars or even a a cheap telescope might be good investments. Be warned, amateur astronomy can get rather addictive.