The UK is home to some of Europe’s best stargazing sites. Due to dark skies and low light pollution ratings, the UK has more than 100 stargazing sites recognised officially making it one of the best places for astrophotographers to capture some stunning shots.
However, as urban areas continue to grow it has become increasingly difficult to capture a good shot of the incredibly starry night sky above.
From stargazing in the Lake District National Park to the South Downs National Park, read on to find out the best stargazing locations in the UK and check out dark sky finder map to see exactly where they’re located.
Top 5 stargazing sites in the UK
1. Galloway Forest National Park, Dumfries & Galloway
The Galloway Forest National Park was the first National Park in the UK to obtain Dark Sky Status back in 2009.
Hailed as one of the must-visit points on a dark sky map of Scotland, we recommend grabbing your camera kit and heading to the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, Bruce’s Stone and the Caldons Woodlands for some prime stargazing opportunities.
You will be able to spot over 7,000 stars, planets and even the Milky Way, all of which are visible to the naked eye.
2. Ennerdale, Lake District National Park, Cumbria
Ennerdale is one of the most remote valleys in England and is located almost two miles from the nearest public road.
With special stargazing events taking place throughout the year, this really is one of the best stargazing locations within the Lake District.
The Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre was the first Dark Sky Discovery centre in the north west of England, attracting thousands of astrophotography enthusiasts every year who come to enjoy the spectacular scenery above.
3. Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
Whether you want to spot The Plough or the Polaris (more commonly known as the North Star) both can be enjoyed at the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.
The only Dark Sky preserve in Wales, the local authorities go to great lengths to preserve the dark sky and reduce the effects of light pollution in the Beacons.
Some of our favourite sports to stargaze include the Crai and Usk Reservoirs as well as the Llangorse Lakes.
4. Exmoor National Park, Devon
The first International Dark Sky Reserve to be located in Europe, visitors to Exmoor in North Devon will be able to enjoy a number of astronomical beauties without the need for a telescope making it the perfect astrophotography location in Devon.
Such wonders include the Orion constellation, the Plough and parts of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation.
Our top dark sky locations in Exmoor include County Gate, Holdstone Hill and Wimbleball Lake.
5. Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
As the most northerly National Park in the UK, the Cairngorms National Park is one of the best areas to perfect your astrophotography technique. The remote areas of Tomintoul and Glenlivet are particularly good for stargazing and you can even see Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) at the Glenlivet Estate. The same latitude as parts of Norway and Alaska, you can see this natural wonder without having to leave the UK.
If you’re interested in improving your astrophotography skills or want to find out more about this amazing photography niche, you should plan a trip to take in our 5 best dark sky locations, perfect for astrophotography.