Our amazing planet is hurtling around a Galaxy full of spectacular star formations, neighboring planets and meteors. Yet so few of us take the time to look up and appreciate what is above us, and unfortunately Light Pollution makes it even tougher to see the wonderful night skies.

Don’t despair though; I’m going to talk about some of the greatest places to enjoy the beautiful night sky, with and without a telescope.

Right, let’s kick off with Galloway Forest Park. The picturesque park is located in the west of Scotland and is one of the darkest places in the North of Britain making it a perfect place to enjoy the stars. Over 7000 stars and planets are visible from the park with just the naked eye.

The Forest Park has a Sky Quality Meter (SQM) scale reading of 21 to 23.6, which considering the scale only runs to 25 and a Photographers dark room measures at 24, it’s a desirable place for stargazing. 

Next up is Exmoor National Park in the South West of England, which has been designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe. As well as being able to see astronomical sights through the naked eye, even more spectacular sights can be seen though a telescope or binoculars. If you do not own either of those, telescopes can be hired from the park to help you explore the amazing skies.

Let’s see how technology plays a role in helping us explore the Universe in a way we can’t do with the naked eye or even with the average telescope. As part of Bristol’s new ‘Smart City’ revamp project, where they will bring technology and interactivity into the heart of their city. One feature launching on April 25th ’15, is the spectacularly designed Planetarium, which will allow people to journey through the stars and planets in an immersive planetarium featuring 360-degree digital 3D, incredible 7.1 surround sound and 4K ultra high definition.

Want to get up close and personal with our universe? The Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Observatory offers you just that. The observatory is open at various times through autumn and winter to allow the public to enjoy the night sky and is open in summer for the public to be able to view the Sun through filtered telescopes.

The North Yorkshire Moors offer breathtaking views of the night sky. Due to the low light pollution levels and the clear horizon, the moors offer one of the best stargazing views in Britain. Unlike the skewed view of the night sky in the cities, the moors offer views where it is possible to see 10 times more stars.

So let’s look at what equipment there is out there which could enhance your viewing experience of our wonderful solar system.

Starting at £39.99 the CELESTRON 76/700 Reflector Telescope is a great starting point for first time telescope buyers. The 35x magnification from the first eyepiece and the 175x from the second allows you to explore constellations, celestial bodies and events. The x Barlow lens triples the magnifying power of each eyepiece for superb viewing quality.

Looking for something with a bit more power? The Jessops 800-80 Astrononical telescope has a magnification range from 40x-399x, which is considerably more powerful than the Celestron. Views of the moon and Jupiter should be no issue for this Telescope.

However, if you would like to explore even more of the night sky and your Telescope budget includes the Sky-Watcher Skyhawk-1145P SynScan AZ GOTO telescope at £243, then you’ll be able to feast your eyes on a considerably clearer and more detailed view of the Solar System. With this telescope, there should be no issue seeing the craters on the moon, Jupiter’s stripes and moons.

The final Telescope on the list comes in at £1345. The Celestron CPC 800 GPS XLT Telescope is a superb example of a telescope, which can give you excellent views of the night sky. The built in GPS in this camera allows you to select which planet you wish to view. The built in technology then locates the planet and directs the telescope directly at it. It’s really rather wonderful and an excellent piece of kit if you are looking for a more advanced Telescope. With views further into our solar system.

There’s a telescope for all you budding astronomers out there.

Whether you want to view the night sky through technology or go and experience it with your own eyes, there’s so much to discover and so many places offering a complete dark sky experience. 

Written by

Katherine Thomson