Stargazing

It's amazing what you can see in the dark

And truly dark skies - like those you'll find in many of our national parks - allow us to see far-off stars and galaxies in the same way our ancestors did, without the orange glow of street lights and neon signs.

Next time you're visiting one of the 15 National Parks to enjoy our great outdoors why not stay a while to admire the night sky in all its stellar glory. We're working to set up Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Discovery Sites and to help run special events to show everyone the wonder of our night skies. We're especially proud that of 11 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, the UK has 4 - the Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Snowdonia and the South Downs National Parks.

Where to go star-gazing in the National Parks

Brecon Beacons National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded February 2013.

One of only a handful of International Dark Sky Reserves in the world following a long-running campaign to demonstrate the national park's outstanding dark sky qualities. Residents and visitors are encouraged to prevent light pollution and take an interest in the night sky.

Cairngorms National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery site at Glenlivet Estate

As well as star gazing, our most northerly National Park offers the best chance for a view of the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) too.

Exmoor National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded 2011

The Exmoor National Park Authority works with local councils, businesses and communities to reduce light pollution, resulting in stunningly starry skies.

Lake District National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Site at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre

Located in Ennerdale, England's most remote valley, and with the nearest public road 2 miles away, Low Gillerthwaite field centre runs special star-gazing events throughout the year.

Northumberland National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Park (Gold tier) awarded in 2013

The whole of the national park together with neighbouring Kielder Water & Forest Park makes up Northumberland Dark Sky Park, nearly 1,500 square kilometres of dark, starry skies.

North York Moors National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Sites at Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centres plus Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society Observatories in Dalby Forest.

The Scarborurgh and Ryedale Astronomical Society hold star gazing events at Dalby forest. The North York Moors National Park Authority teams up with experts from York Astronomical Society to hold an annual stargazing event each November at Sutton Bank National Park Centre.

Peak District National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Sites at Surprise View, Parsley Hay and Minninglow

Discovery sites with seasonally updated interpretation panels

Sheffield Astronomical Society events

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Status: 5 Dark Sky Discovery sites

Discovery sites at:

  • Garn Fawr National Trust car park (SA64 OJJ)
  • Kete National Trust car park (SA62 3RR)
  • Martin's Haven National Trust car park (SA62 3BJ)
  • Skrinkle Haven Pembrokeshire Coast National Park car park
  • Sychpant Pembrokeshire Coast National Park picnic site

South Downs National Park

Halnacker Windmill by moonlight, South Downs National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded 2016

Snowdonia National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded in 2015

Snowdonia National Park was awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status on 4 December 2015, making it the fourth UK National Park to be acknowledged by the International Dark Sky Institute for efforts to prevent and reduce light pollution, thereby protecting the view of the night sky.

Top 5 places for star gazing in Snowdonia National Park Dark Sky Reserve

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery sites

Head to a National Park!

Map of UK showing light pollution

This map shows light pollution levels across Britain. We've added the locations of the national parks, and you can see that we match up with some of the darkest spots in the country. So, if you're visiting any of our National Parks, stay up late on a clear night and enjoy some extra stars.