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Where to go for the best stargazing in 2019

The National Parks Dark Skies Festival is just around the corner, and if you plan to do a spot of stargazing this year, you’ll need to know the best places to go.

From 15 February to 3 March 2019, National Parks across the UK are teaming up to celebrate the night sky and all the wonderful things we can see there. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer or getting to grips with constellations for the first time, the festival is a great chance to learn new things. Here’s what you can get up to.

Northumberland

Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky, so it’s perfect for seeing what’s out beyond our solar system. On a clear night, up to 2,000 stars are visible; bring your binoculars and you might even catch Andromeda, our neighbouring galaxy. Our River Breamish site in the Cheviot Hills is part of the Park, which spans 1,483 square kilometres, so if you plan a camping and stargazing trip here, you won’t need to go far to see what the night sky has to offer.

The nearby Kielder Observatory has talks and activities for the whole family, which take place all year round. So whether you’re staying during the festival or want to learn more during your summer holiday, be sure to book a place at one of its events.

North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire is as breath-taking by night as it is by day. Above you the sky opens to reveal thousands of stars, the chance to see meteor showers and a glimpse of the Milky Way. During the National Parks Dark Skies Festival, a host of events are taking place around the North York Moors, from night walks and guided stargazing to nighttime photography workshops and lectures on the mysteries of the universe. If you’ve got kids, why not fly through the night sky on the Go Ape! Night Zip in Dalby Forest?

Meanwhile, in the Yorkshire Dales, you can canoe along Scar House Reservoir under the stars, take a guided tour of the solar system at Lime Tree Farm or join a woodland lantern procession through Freeholders Wood.

If you’re planning to combine camping and stargazing in North Yorkshire, our York Rowntree Park site is well-placed to access events in both locations. 

Southern England

The South Downs span Hampshire, West and East Sussex and are a haven for stargazers. Hotspots for exploring the night sky include Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon, while the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium has films and live shows year-round that introduce you to outer space. Our Brighton site is close to Ditchling Beacon and offers glamping, which means you can enjoy the nearby dark skies during the festival. Between March and November, our Morn Hill site near Winchester is a great spot for stargazing in Hampshire.

Wales

The Brecon Beacons National Park was the fourth UK National Park to be awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status, and lots has been done here to reduce light pollution. Usk Reservoir is a great place to set up your telescope and discover constellations, meteors and more, and Dark Sky Wales offers group stargazing and astrophotography evenings throughout the winter and early spring at the Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre. Head to our Brecon Beacons site for stargazing in Wales – it’s close to both Usk Reservoir and the Visitor Centre.

 

 

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