Britain has scores of sites that are perfect for stargazing, including 4 of the world's 11 International Dark Sky Reserves making it an ideal place to enjoy pristine views of the Milky Way, and even other planets. Here are some of the best places around Britain for an out-of-this-world experience.
Become a star-gazing expert at Northumberland International Dark Sky Park
Cawfield in Northumberland Dark Sky Park, England. Image credited to Northumberland Dark Sky Park
For pristine views of the Milky Way and skies full of endless stars, head to Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, Europe's largest area of protected night sky. It's an ideal location to see the Andromeda Galaxy and shooting stars, and is home to the Kielder Observatory; a public astronomical observatory hosting events throughout the year. Enjoy a magical drive up to the Observatory through the national park, before discovering other worlds as you perch 1,200 feet above the forest and moorland.
Getting there: located in the north of England, near the Scottish border, the Kielder Observatory is a 90-minute drive from Newcastle upon Tyne.
Reach for the sky at Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve, south-west England
Valley of the Rocks on the coast of Devon, Exmoor. Image credited to ©VisitBritain, Visit Devon, Neville Stannikk
See the views once gazed at by our ancestors, before electricity lit up the night skies, at Exmoor National Park. Located near the coast in the counties of Somerset and Devon in south-west England, the park is an ideal spot for stargazers; with spots such as Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Webbers Post, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake boasting some of the best astronomical views.
Getting there: located in the south-west of England, Exmoor National Park is less than 2 hours by car from Bristol.
Pack a picnic and star-spot by reservoirs in Brecon Beacons, Wales
Black Mountain of the Brecon Beacons in Wales at night. Image credited to ©Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales
Granted International Dark Sky Reserve status in 2013, the Brecon Beacons in Wales offer a plethora of dark sky spots to get your astronomer juices flowing. From the beauty of Usk Reservoir, protected from the light pollution of the industrial South Wales Valleys to the serene Pontsticill Reservoir, accessed from Merthyr Tydfil and boasting idyllic viewing spots along the banks of the water, there are plenty of opportunities to gaze at the stars in Wales.
Getting there: the Brecon Beacons are a 75-minute drive from Cardiff in Wales.
Discover other worlds in the Lake District, England
A winter evening at the Lake District in England. Image credited to VisitEngland, Blacks
Nestled within the beauty of the Lake District National Park, Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre is an official Dark Sky Discovery Site that runs special stargazing events throughout the year. If an evening of stargazing isn't enough, visitors can also stay over in their on-site accommodation, transformed from 17th-century farm buildings.
Getting there: located in the Lake District National Park, the Lower Gillerthwaite Field Centre is a 3-hour drive from Harrogate near Leeds.
Get a tour of the universe at Greenwich Royal Observatory, south England
Greenwich park in London, England, UK. Image credited to VisitBritain, Britain on View
Even with the twinkling lights of London, you can still see stars in the city, especially if you head to Greenwich Royal Observatory. Located in the depths of Greenwich Park, visitors can see out-of-this-world views at the Peter Harrison Planetarium; expect expert-guided tours of the universe and stunning views of the Milky Way.
Getting there: The Royal Observatory is located in Greenwich Park and is best reached by the Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich London underground station.
See the moons of Jupiter at Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, west Scotland
Galloway Forest in Scotland. Image credit to Damian Shields, VisitScotland
Spanning 777 km2 of forested glens, lochs and the highest hills in southern Scotland, Galloway Forest Park has very few buildings and low levels of light pollution, so was unsurprisingly the very first national park awarded Dark Sky Park status. Grab your coat and binoculars, wrap up warm, and head to the Galloway Forest Park to experience some of the finest views off the planet, including the moons of Jupiter and the cliffs on our own moon.
Getting there: located in the west of Scotland, Galloway Forest is a 75-minute drive from Glasgow.