Light pollution is the main obstacle between you and the exploration of the night sky when you are armed with a decent telescope and a lot of passion for learning the secrets of the universe. However, some spots are darker than most, and you only need to know which they are. Here are some of the fantastic stargazing spots in the UK you should visit as an amateur astronomer.
Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
National parks are a safe bet because they are away from the hustle and bustle of the large areas inhabited by people. The Kielder Water and Forest Park deserves to be on this list since it’s considered one of the darkest spots in the entire country. The receiver of the ‘Dark Sky Status’ offered by the International Dark Skies Association, it is undoubtedly a place where you can freely examine the night sky.
Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
Another place to qualify for the Dark Sky Discovery status is the Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps. If you’re the type of amateur astronomer who prefers the chill atmosphere of the beach instead of the silence of the forest, you will find this place to be entirely what you need. All you have to do is to travel to Cornwall, armed with some of the equipment reviewed here.
Exmoor National Park, Devon
An International Dark Sky Reserve, this national park is an excellent spot for those who want to explore the sky above to their heart’s content. While it’s listed as a single spot, the truth is that the Exmoor National Park has multiple places from which you can choose when you want to enjoy some fantastic astral views, such as County Gate, Wimbleball Lake, or Holdstone Hill.
South Downs National Park, Hampshire
Assessed by the International Dark Skies Association as having 66% of its surface ideal for observing the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy in perfect conditions, this national park is another excellent spot for stargazing in the UK. This International Dark Sky Reserve is also part of the Dark Skies festival held in February, so it is clear that amateur astronomers should find a way to visit it.
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway
The great part about this place is that you don’t even have to bring heavy equipment with you to enjoy the unhindered view of the night sky. Even with the naked eye, you can sit here and observe more than 7,000 celestial bodies. The Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre offers excellent conditions for stargazers as it overlooks the darkest area of the park.
There are even stargazing events organised here from time to time, so you will find it ideal for finding new and exciting things, and also bond with other people who are as passionate as you are about the same thing.
Coll, Inner Hebrides
In the case that you don’t mind getting off the shore, in your quest to discover the most exciting stargazing spots in the UK, the next recommendation will be right up your alley. Coll is an island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, and it offers dark sky conditions like few other places can.
The status of Dark Sky Discovery was awarded to 3 places here, which are Arinagour, RSPB Totronold, and the Cliad football pitch. If you want to observe the Great Nebula Orion with the naked eye, just choose one of these places.
Shetland, Northern Isles
You might not have thought it possible for amateur astronomers to be able to see the Northern Lights in the UK, but that means only that you’ve never travelled to Shetland. From October to March, people who come here can enjoy some unique views of the Northern Lights. Shetland is also renowned for its fire festivals, so you may want to combine two favourite pastimes into one.
Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
If you want to observe the Milky Way and other constellations with the naked eye, there is nothing easier than choosing a spot anywhere in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Part of the International Dark Sky Reserve, as other destinations listed here, it is absolutely perfect. Also, the Cardiff Astronomical Society often organises events here.