Star-gazing in the countryside is a favourite past time for many of us. If a group of star-gazers in England get their way, we may just have the biggest Dark Sky Park in Europe right in our backyards. Bring out the blankets and hot cocoa, the telescopes and star charts, it’s star-gazing time!
Northumberland National Park, Keilder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and the Kielder Obervatory Astronomical Society are bidding together for special status from the International Dar Skies Association. Such a title would restrict light pollution in the area in hope of promoting and benefitting star-gazing opportunities. Currently Europe’s largest Dark Sky Park is in Galloway in Scotland but Northumberland covers a greater area.
Northumberland Park is covered mostly by open moorland with very little vegetation to block light which is why the status is particularly important to protect night-sky viewing. There will be limitations on new nearby buildings projects to have fewer exterior lights and only ones that shine downwards.
Best places to star-gaze in Britain
For now England has a few other Dark Sky Reserves, parks and places which offer little light pollution and great opportunities to learn more about astronomy and the stars. Here are the best places to star-gaze while on holidays in England:
- Galloway Forest Park (near Carlisle)
- Exmoor (particularly Winsford Hill)
- Mam Tor (in the Peak District)
- Knighton (in Powys, Wales)
- Romney Marsh
- North York Moors
- Black Down (Sussex)
- Brecon Beacons
Do you take the time to go star-gazing in summer? What was the first constellation you learned?