Stargazing offers a world of wonder for the whole family, it's also a great opportunity to teach your little ones about our galaxy (or for them to show off what they've learned in school). Alternatively, it also makes for a romantic evening to spend with your partner. With stargazing being a night time oriented outdoor hobby, it does tend to get rather cold. You'll need to wrap up in a nice warm coat and woolly gloves, as well as bringing a blanket and a few cushions to lay on. Binoculars also come in handy for a closer view of the stars, and some hot drinks and snacks wouldn't go amiss either.
When is the best time to stargaze?
Stargazing is best done before the moon is full. You can use the dark sky calendar by Go Stargazing to find the best day. You can also find apps to download that will help to locate the stars and gain more information about them, our favourite is Starwalk. If the sky is clear enough and you've timed it right, you could see...
- • The Sun
- • The Moon
- • The Milky Way
- • Meteor Showers
- • Stars
- • Planets (Usually Mercury, Venus or Mars)
Stargazing: The UK's Best Locations
Brecon Beacons is situated in Wales and is home to 271 acres of woodland. There are a whole host of activities available from boat tours, bike tours, golf clubs, walking, and much more. Most importantly, Brecon Beacons is a great place to stargaze and was even named the first place in wales to have a Dark Sky attracting a number of people each year claiming you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, and meteor showers.
By Car: Use Brecon Beacons National Park in your sat nav.
By Train: The nearest station would be Abergavenny or Merthyr Tydfil which cover most major lines.
By Bus: There are regular busses that run into the park daily, T4 runs from Cardiff and the T6 from Swansea.
Northumberland Dark Sky Park
Northumberland has very low light pollution, resulting in dark skies which enable you to see a wide variety of stars as well as the Milky Way. There are many spots in which you can view the beautiful skies, with Kielder Observatory located in the middle of Northumberland's dark sky park. The park was awarded Gold Tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies Association, which is the highest tier a location can be awarded.
By Car: You can easily access the park by car using the M6, A1 or the A7.
By Train: If you make your way to Newcastle where you can then get a train to a near station such as Wylam, Prudhoe, Stocksfield.
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park is the largest national park in Wales covering 823 square miles. Snowdonia gained its Dark Sky Reserve status in December 2015, this means the Milky Way, the constellations, and even some shooting stars! These can be seen anywhere in the Snowdonia region although it's thought that the fishing lake Llyn y Dywarchen has one of the best views.
By Car: The national park can be easily accessed through the M56 and A55
By Train: You will find many trains will take you along the coast with Conwy Valley Line running through the Snowdonia National Park.
Exmoor National Park
Accredited International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011 by the International Dark Sky Association. Due to its minimal light pollution, Exmoor is a great place to see the stars and the Milky Way. There is also a great opportunity to stargaze at Exmoor's Dark Skies Festival, running from 22nd October till 7th November. This is a chance to get involved in all things stargazing, from competitions to win equipment to visiting the owls there are so many events taking place.
By Train: There are many train lines you can use too access Exmoor National park, you can view the full list to find the best route for you.
By Bus: There are also a number of bus routes with the number 25 running all year Monday- Saturday.
We're aware that not all of the above places are accessible for everyone as they can be a couple of hours drive depending on where you're located, so why not stargaze in your garden?! Lay out some blankets and cushions and get cosy under the stars - just make sure you've got the right timing.