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Top 25 Stargazing Spots in the U.K.

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I've been to 3 of them places, Usk reservoir, Breacon Becons and Exmoor.

Can highly recommend all 3.

Live quite close to Alice Holt but never been there as you need to be a member of Farnham Astro Society.

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Good list, not sure about the write up for Knighton, no light pollution does not imply lots of clear nights. That part of the UK is more well known for cloud - equally why they therefore put an observatiory there means an expectation of a fair number of clear nights. I do however see the picture they have used has a cloud covered sky. :grin: :grin:

Who is going to drag a 12" dobsonian on to the top of a lintle across the stones at Stonehenge to observe is in for a lot of trouble. Stonehenge is slowly getting to be out of bounds for everyone these days.

They are dark places but not all shown are suitable to actually observe from, you really do need access to places to use a scope, which usually means getting a car to the spot.

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I agree with Ronin, there is no argument that the list features the darkest sites but few are observer friendly, many are very remote and even dangerous. By comparison, the Astronomy Centre wouldn't get on a top 100 dark sky list but we have power, brewing facilities, toilets and many telescopes from 3" to 30" to use. Take your pick.  :smiley:

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Ones I use are:

Sutton Bank - North Yorkshire Moors

Pately Moor/Dallow Moor - above Pately Bridge - North Yorkshire 

On the highest point on Stocks Reservoir to Clapham road in the Bowland Fells (Forest of Bowland) - small car park next to cattle grid

Ribble Head - next to the railway viaduct (bunk house nearby)

Kingsdale - Yorkshire dales

Dent Dale - far western Yorkshire dales

Anywhere away from Hawes in Upper Wensleydale - Yorkshire dales

(most of these sites discovered through my other hobby of caving - did a lot of fell walking in the dark lugging ropes and stuff. Best of this was exiting a pothole at 2:00am to see Comet Hyakutake hanging high in the west in a very very dark sky in Kingsdale) 

I'll make a comment about the pervasiveness of light pollution even in these very dark areas available for Yorkshire and Lancashire - even on the top of the Bowland Fells in north Lancashire - with the Pennies in between - the light pollution and horizon glow from Newcastle!!! is very obvious - luckily its confined low in the north east side of the sky, Sadly even at the Bowland site the south has a glow from the large number of towns in mid Lancashire southwards. Hence I tend to retreat from the col northwards to put the southern glow behind the hills

Sutton Bank is great for dark skys eastwards over the North sea - North is a dead loss - Middlesborough, Sunderland and Newcastle kill that area.

Upper Wensleydale is truly superb - but its in the middle of the Pennines and clear cloud free skies are less frequent

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West Shropshire is an excellent area for anyone traveling from the West Midlands. Very dark. Milky Way visible within a few seconds of being outside and low LP. Even darker now, with most of Shropshire being converted to part-night lighting. SQM readings can be impressive, from 5.5 LM to 6.3 LM.

Wenlock Edge is not recommended, as there are huge light domes from Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Telford and Much Wenlock itself.

I am surprised to see that certain areas of Cornwall were not mentioned. It can get very dark, there.

 

When it is clear, WOW! Very much pot luck; you have to have a lot of patience and live in the area to make the most of the clear skies when they occur. Those mountains provide a natural screen from any light pollution.

I took a reading a few days ago, with the bright MW at the zenith, which was 21.3 MPSAS (6.3 LM)

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West Shropshire is an excellent area for anyone traveling from the West Midlands. Very dark. Milky Way visible within a few seconds of being outside and low LP. Even darker now, with most of Shropshire being converted to part-night lighting. SQM readings can be impressive, from 5.5 LM to 6.3 LM.

Wenlock Edge is not recommended, as there are huge light domes from Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Telford and Much Wenlock itself.

I am surprised to see that certain areas of Cornwall were not mentioned. It can get very dark, there.

Mid Wales is awesome. However, I have encountered more cloudy nights than clear, more so during the astronomy season. There were a spate of crystal clear skies during the Summer when it doesn't get dark enough for those DSOs!! :D

When it is clear, WOW! Very much pot luck; you have to have a lot of patience and live in the area to make the most of the clear skies when they occur. Those mountains provide a natural screen from any light pollution.

I took a reading a few days ago, with the bright MW at the zenith, which was 21.3 MPSAS (6.3 LM)

thats real dark sam. we need to go back :grin:

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For me, Cawfields in Northumberland should be included, it is a dark sky discovery site and has good access and more important.... loo's :grin:

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this should be made a sticky and people can add to it if mods think its worthy. this is probably the most important aspect of astronomy. you can forget your ethoses this is the real deal

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"SQM readings can be impressive, from 5.5 LM to 6.3 LM."


 


Whats that in normal SQM readings (magnitude brightness per square arc second). I get 20.80 - 21.0 at Dallow Moor depending on air quality. 21.0 is supposed to be lower edge of "truly dark". My "classic" SQM doesn't do LM.


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As a point of reference I measured the sky at Kimworthy in Devon in spring 2008 (no moon, very clear night)  at 21.61 brightness per square arc second (Bmpsas) on a then new and cross checked SQM meter (checked against a couple of other SQM meters - hopefully then were not all showing the same inaccuracies). This is the darkest place I've measured in the UK so far (not been to Kielder or Galloway yet)

If you use the equation - NELM=7.93 - 5 * log(10 ^ (4.316 - (Bmpsas / 5)) + 1) - this translates to 6.44 LM - though I have some doubts about the equation - hence I prefer to compare direct via Bmpsas and take 21.00 + as indicative of really dark

(the equation was from  the Unihedron site - http://www.unihedron.com/projects/darksky/NELM2BCalc.html - see references at bottom of page for were the conversion equation comes from)

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SQM readings convey little to me other than a comparison between higher and lower values. NELM I find gives a more practical observation of what can be seen at the time.  :smiley:

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"SQM readings can be impressive, from 5.5 LM to 6.3 LM." - OK got my act together - that's   20.00 to 21.34 on the Bmpsas scale via the Unihedron web site.

6.1 LM is equiv to 21.00 Bmpsas (which is my personal "its really dark" measure)

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The only ‘International Dark Sky Park’ in the UK, the Galloway Forest Park is one of the darkest places in Britain.

Not quite 'The only'! Kielder is also an ‘International Dark Sky Park’, and we have Exmoor and Brecon Beacons ‘International Dark Sky Reserves’.

NigelM

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"SQM readings convey little to me other than a comparison between higher and lower values"

I have no problem with that at all - What SQM is really useful for is to get an absolute and repeatable measure so sites in different locations can be compared reliably and also the same site compared over time (is LP increasing or decreasing? which site is really darker (most of the time)?). Leeds astronomical society has been monitoring the Leeds urban area out the local countryside to see how the city lights change-over from sodium to white lights started in 2008 is affecting things using SQMs and not (unreliable) human eyes.

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It might be interesting to see how these sites fared in terms of numbers of clear nights  per year as well?

Chris

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Danny k,faulksy...£20 each or I post the details!!!...(joke)

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Not quite 'The only'! Kielder is also an ‘International Dark Sky Park’, and we have Exmoor and Brecon Beacons ‘International Dark Sky Reserves’.

NigelM

darker than the Scottish highlands???

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Wow!! Thanks for all the comments, some interesting stuff, hopefully more details for other good stargazing spots, will come to light.

Dan K and Faulksy, I really want to know where your secret spot is. lol. You can P.M. Me with the details if you like. ;)

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Some good info. on this thread.

The search for dark skies is one of diminishing returns.  My regular (but occasional) haunt is mid Wales.  Anything in England south of Hadrian's Wall becomes second best  :( 

Damn light pollution!!!

Cheers

Paul

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The only starparty that I've been to with no LP at all is Dobfest

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