Scotland’s Dark Sky Park

[Originally published in 2011 – I wrote the web page and the booklet: http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/dark-sky-park]

With some of the clearest night skies anywhere in Europe, Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries & Galloway is the perfect place to star gaze and has been named the UK’s first Dark Sky Park.

Galloway Forest Park is the largest in Britain, at 300 sq miles, and is the ideal place to explore in the daytime, with ancient woodland and stunning valleys.

But at night, it is one of the best spots in the UK to stargaze with the naked eye, with unrivalled conditions due to the wild scenery, limited number of buildings within its boundaries and lack of light pollution. Thousands of stars and even the Milky Way are all visible without the use of a telescope.

Galloway Forest Park was the first national park in the UK to be awarded Dark Sky Park status from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) in November 2009. The awards are aimed at reducing light pollution, protecting the dark skies and the natural nocturnal habitats in which wildlife thrives.

It is one of only three dark sky parks in Europe and gives year round opportunities to stargaze. Identified sites for the best views across the park include Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, Glentrool Visitor Centre, Bruce’s Stone, Caldons woodlands and Kirroughtree Visitor Centre.

On the edge of Galloway Forest Park is the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. Facilities include two impressive telescopes, and a roll-off-roof observatory which offers a unique ‘out in the open’ experience.

Download a copy of the handy Dark Sky Park guide, Scotland’s Stellar Spectacular, for information about what stars to look out for in the night sky, hints and tips and a short introduction to stargazing in Scotland.

The Dark Sky Park Booklet
The Dark Sky Park Booklet
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