Dark Sky Places


Stargazing gives us access to orders of events, and scales of time and space, which are beyond our capacity to imagine

Robert Macfarlane: The Wild Places, Granta Publications, 2007

Although the night sky still has no protection in law in the UK, there are still places where you can go to enjoy the stars on clear nights.

National Parks, AONBs, local and regional tourist offices and astronomical groups are ready sources of information on the best places to see the night sky. Lists of UK astronomy groups can be found at:


A good resource for finding Dark Sky locations can be found on the Go Stargazing Website

If you want to see large numbers of stars, avoid nights during the weeks around times of Full Moon.


Do your own research before embarking on an astronomy trip. Going to northern Scotland to see the Northern Lights in July? Don’t bother – there’s precious little darkness at that time of year there. Taking your telescope to a dark-sky friendly campsite? Perhaps there’s one already provided, operated by an experienced person.

There are many good star atlases in both book form and online.

http://www.skymaps.com has downloadable star charts for both northern and southern hemispheres and lists most of the star guides on the market.

If you use printed charts, laminate them against the damp. Use a fairly dim red light to read them and preserve your night vision. Some online sky maps such as Stellarium have a night-mode setting to protect night vision.

Planispheres (https://britastro.org/node/12028) have rotating discs that allow you to set the date against the time and display the current night sky. See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM8fH_NmtU4


logo is a trade-mark of the International Dark-Sky Association, and the UKDSP is not affiliated, sponsored, authorised or otherwise associated by/with IDA.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona USA. IDA fosters and empowers a global volunteer network that drives the worldwide dark sky movement by promoting eco-friendly outdoor lighting and educating policymakers and the public about the importance of night-time conservation.