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International Dark Sky Places

The UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe. You can find dark skies near where you live, if you can get away from bright lights such as street lighting. That could be in your back garden, a local park, or getting out of town altogether. From a city centre location we might see about 100 stars with our naked eyes, and the further away from the streetlights you go, the better the view becomes. Under a really dark sky we can see over 1,000 stars. We can even see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky.

Light Pollution United Kingdom Light Pollution Europe

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The dark areas on these maps have less light pollution, showing just how special some parts of the UK's dark skies really are.

Dark Sky places are areas or sites that have been officially recognised for their low levels of light pollution and good public access.

The International Dark Sky Association officially recognises large areas in countries around the world as Dark Sky Places for their low levels of light pollution and good public access. Within the British Isles a number of large dark places have been recognised in this way:

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Sark Dark Sky Island

Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve

Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve

Northumberland Dark Sky Park

Coll Dark Sky Island

Elan Valley Dark Sky Park

Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve

Tomintoul and Glenlivet – Cairngorms Dark Sky Park

UK Dark Sky Discovery Sites

Separately, the Dark Sky Discovery Partnership's growing network of Dark Sky Discovery Sites pinpoints the best spots in a number of rural and urban areas to see the night sky in the UK.

Here is some guidance if you are interested in developing your area’s Dark Sky potential.

Some good websites on dark skies are:

The Campaign for Dark Skies
British Astronomical Association
Campaign for the Protection of Rural England

Philip’s publishes a Dark Sky Map of Britain and Ireland.

The website My Dark Sky is building up records of light pollution surveys in the UK.