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Top 25 Stargazing Spots in the U.K.

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Not UK, but I often go on holiday to Ballinaskellig, Kerry - right in the heart of the (first northern hemisphere) gold tier international dark sky reserve. I don't have a travel scope, but this summer was there with one night with an amazing clear moon free sky. I had my binoculars, but naked eye viewing of the milky way was spectacular, playing 'spot the Messier object'. One of these days I hope to get a biggish truss dob, and get down there when the moon, weather, work, kids, wife all allign... ;) There's a great pub too if it's cloudy!!

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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

That's a very good idea 

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I was surprised that central Birmingham wasn't mentioned. I know it's good because it's the only place I can get to. I always have a good night when I can get out under the stars. ( That seems so wrong when you see it written down)

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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

Hi Tonk, If you like using the N.York Moors area you should visit at some time in the future, the Forestry Commission road that runs from Stape across Wheeldale moor to Egton Bridge.

Take the route from Pickering Station through Newton upon Rawcliffe leading to Stape, consult your road map and you will see it follows, in general, the old Roman road to Whitby. Partly a private road, but a public right of way, crossing Forestry Commission land, but you will have to open a gate or two used to keep the sheep in. I  am not taken with Sutton Bank, after several public club events there, too much traffic and light pollution from Northallerton :)

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I am told by people who have been to the star party that Kelling now suffers from LP

Certainly the lights from the nearby small town of Holt seem to be getting ever brighter.  However, it's still very dark compared to most places in the UK.  The big advantage of North Norfolk is the combination of dark skies + low rates of cloud cover = good chance of dark skies.  This is contrast to many darker, more remote areas in the west of the Britiish Isles which suffer from a considerably higher number of nights with cloud cover.

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Don't see how kelling has dark skies with the amount of villages and towns around?... Try mid Wales...zero lp

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Hi

Kelling certainly is light polluted compared to mid Wales, but it is good fun :) and if it is near to you a very good option.

Worth noting that Kelling (and that north coast area) is the cloudier/wetter part of Norfolk.  I travelled off site and set up inland to have a great session whilst the 'coastal range' was covered in cloud/mist/fog.

Cheers

Paul

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Hi Tonk, If you like using the N.York Moors area you should visit at some time in the future, the Forestry Commission road that runs from Stape across Wheeldale moor to Egton Bridge.

Take the route from Pickering Station through Newton upon Rawcliffe leading to Stape, consult your road map and you will see it follows, in general, the old Roman road to Whitby. Partly a private road, but a public right of way, crossing Forestry Commission land, but you will have to open a gate or two used to keep the sheep in. I  am not taken with Sutton Bank, after several public club events there, too much traffic and light pollution from Northallerton :)

Hi Glowjet - I actually don't set up at Sutton Bank vistor center but about 1 mile further north on the back road (Cleveland Rd -> Sneck Yate Bank). The only hassle is the anti-sheep rustling patrol around 03:00. I only go to Sutton when all other places I use are cloudy as its at my outer range (1 hour drive) - so not often. I live on the edge of the Wharfe Valley (Leeds side) but I have a clear view over the Vale of York to Sutton Bank (can see the Whitestone cliff on Roulston Scar in binns - that 35 miles sight line) so I can see the cloud situation from upstairs bedroom to make the call. I've been near where you mention to try and sight Panstarrs in a cloud gap 18 months ago but that's a long drive! (the gap closed too!) 

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Time to resurrect the ironic infogram...  :D

post-3767-0-48648300-1417186982_thumb.jp

The trouble is, you want a good run of clear nights so that you can gather a bit of momentum - I don't have enough clear nights for all that I want to do; such as finding difficult DSO targets, even getting the practice up for good quality widefield images.   :D In all the years I have been observing, it feels like I've only scratched the surface!

The 'few' clear nights keeps me keen....  :D

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Dont really get the chance to get out on the road but have spent some amazing nights with an ED80 between Abersoch and Aberdaron, the stars were so bright they were casting shadows !!!
Need to go back soon 
Great thread
Lee

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We go to Skye every year to visit the Dragon in law and the tribe. Some cracking spots there. What we need is a data base of places to stay,post-6974-0-16779400-1417192396_thumb.jppost-6974-0-08465800-1417192563_thumb.jp

My best advice for Skye is to book early and try to book directly with the owners of cottages,

Nick.

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Dont really get the chance to get out on the road but have spent some amazing nights with an ED80 between Abersoch and Aberdaron, the stars were so bright they were casting shadows !!!

Need to go back soon 

Great thread

Lee

Yes, I agree, we did search for properties up that way a few years ago... Stunning dark skies and a stunning area to boot!! :)

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This seems mainly to be about LP, which is only one part of the problem. The other part is sky clarity. Mam Tor appears on the OP's link. Well, tolerably dark, though Sheffield ain't far away. But how often is it clear? I'm a refugee from Derbyshire and I had, quite honestly 'a few' clear nights a year. No more. It was as bad as that.

Olly

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So from that clear sky / no light pollution map I ought to move to mid/west Devon or south Dorset!

I've used the AstroAdventures place in west Devon 3 times and its really really dark but in 18 days total time spent there I got around 7 clear nights in total. The second stay was 0 clear nights - but that's just bad luck.

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Ah ha- the old cloudy nights vs light pollution debate!

I prefer the absolute darkness of Mid Wales to some semi orange sky site on the East coast. I'll take my chances with the clouds (which seem to  be everywhere anyway!).

There seem to less contrails in Wales than the Midlands. I also think the air is cleaner here too, being fresh in, off the Atlantic (not having passed over the width of England picking up all the diesel particulates along the way).

Edited by laser_jock99
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Agree with many of the posts before. Having been to most of the locations north of the border mentioned in the article I'm not sure they are ideally suited. Coll for instance has without doubt the least light polluted dark sky I have ever seen, however in summer the Sky just never gets dark and in winter I can't imagine there are to many clear nights. As for Rye marshes they are pretty good if you can find somewhere in the middle but there still tends to be a lot of light on the horizon. Can't speak the rest of the country but Kent wise I found the east coast of the Isle of SHeppey pretty good. North East to South East looks out onto the North sea so little light pollution for Orion, rosette and friends. But if we are honest nowhere is ideal in this country given our cloud to clear ratio.

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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:

Yes, this is a point that so many people miss or aren't aware of.

Give me a Mag 4 location with 100 clear nights a year, over a Mag 6 location with 10 - any time.

A "best stargazing spots" list is of little practical use unless it tells you what the chances of actually exploiting that dark sky is.

Edited by pete_l

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Most of the Dobfest spots consist of a trowel and your own water supply!

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I am hoping to do a spot of wild camping in Northumberland whilst dark sky observing this winter. I have a compact trowel which is designed to take when hill walking / backpacking, good practice when in the great outdoors.

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best one is the one you will use, be it bottom of your garden, or a three hour car journey or if your lucky like me on the edge of the galloway dark sky park 20 mins in the car gets me dark enough for most visual objects within the reach of my telescope

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I live in Shrewsbury, however at 12pm the Council turns off the street lights which is good despite concerns from the residents on crime/safety etc... However, the main road near me and the retail park isn't brill for me.

Tom.

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