What are the best stargazing spots in Northern UK?

11 June 2024

If you are a celestial enthusiast longing for a dark sky filled with limitless stars, then the Northern UK is the place to be. The region boasts several internationally recognized dark sky parks where the beauty of the night skies unravels in all its glory. In these locations, light pollution is reduced to the barest minimum, making them ideal for stargazing. Whether you're a seasoned astronomer or a curious novice, these sites offer a fantastic view of the cosmos far away from the busy city lights. This article provides an in-depth look into the best stargazing spots in Northern England.

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

When it comes to stargazing in the UK, the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is a popular destination. It is Europe's largest area of protected night sky, receiving its international dark sky status in 2013.

Situated in the north-east part of England, this park offers some of the blackest skies, making it a haven for stargazers. The observatory nestled within the park gives visitors an unrivalled view of the universe. The park features various locations where you can set up your telescope or even just sit back and enjoy the show.

Apart from stargazing, the Northumberland Dark Sky Park is also home to various wildlife, making it a wonderful spot for nature lovers. With an array of events hosted throughout the year, there's always something intriguing to witness in this park.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park, located in North Yorkshire, is another fantastic location for stargazing. The park, known for its diverse landscapes laced with hilly moors and serene valleys, is an ideal place for anyone seeking to connect with nature.

Its remote location away from city lights offers a pristine view of the night sky. In 2020, the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors were jointly awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status, making them some of the best places in the world to appreciate the night sky. With various stargazing events and workshops held throughout the year, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a must-visit for any astronomy aficionado.

North York Moors National Park

If you're looking for another excellent stargazing spot in the Northern UK, the North York Moors National Park can't be overlooked. Situated in North Yorkshire, this park is part of the International Dark Sky Reserve, giving it a special place in the world of stargazing.

The Park offers numerous public stargazing events throughout the year, including an annual dark sky festival, perfect for both seasoned astronomers and beginners. The park's vast open spaces and lack of light pollution make for an unforgettable stargazing experience. On a clear night, you can observe thousands of stars, planets, and even distant galaxies.

Kielder Observatory in Northumberland

Located deep within the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the Kielder Observatory is a spectacular spot for stargazing. With the observatory's advanced telescopes, visitors can explore the depths of the universe under the guidance of professional astronomers.

The observatory regularly hosts events and workshops for various age groups and skill levels, from beginner to advanced. These sessions provide additional info about the stars, the universe, and the science of astronomy.

Galloway Forest Park

Last but not least, we have the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland, just north of the English border. This park is a dream come true for stargazers.

Awarded the status of UK's first Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, it offers some of the darkest skies in the UK. With its clear nights and minimal light pollution, you can enjoy unspoiled views of the Milky Way, distant galaxies, and shooting stars.

Remember, the beauty of the night sky is best appreciated away from the glaring city lights. So, pack up your telescope, find a comfy spot, and enjoy the cosmic spectacle that the Northern UK offers.

South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park is another stargazing gem in the Northern UK. This park, located in the South of England, is the UK's newest Dark Sky Reserve, having received the status from the International Dark-Sky Association in early 2024. The park's commitment to preserving the dark night sky has made it an attractive spot for stargazers.

South Downs National Park is home to various dark sky discovery sites that provide a breathtaking view of the night sky. These sites are specifically chosen for their low light pollution levels and clear skyline views, making them perfect for observing celestial wonders. It's not uncommon to catch a glimpse of the ethereal Northern Lights from this location on clear, dark nights.

Apart from stargazing, South Downs National Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities to enhance your visit. Whether it's hiking, cycling, or bird-watching, the park has something for everyone. Don't forget to check the site info for any special events like astronomy workshops or guided night walks that might be happening during your visit.

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park, located in the southwest of England, is yet another location in the Northern UK that offers a dazzling night sky view. It was Europe's first International Dark Sky Reserve, a testament to its incredibly dark skies.

The national park's inland valleys and high cliffs provide perfect vantage points to appreciate the night sky in all its magnificence. You may even be fortunate enough to view the radiant Northern Lights if conditions are right. The park's light pollution is considerably minimal, allowing thousands of stars and other celestial bodies to shine brightly.

At Exmoor National Park, stargazing isn't the only attraction. The park is rich with diverse wildlife, scenic walking paths, and quaint villages that add to the overall experience. Whether you're an amateur astronomer or just enjoy the tranquility of a starlit sky, Exmoor National Park is worth a visit.


The Northern UK is indeed a paradise for stargazers. With multiple dark sky parks and reserves, it's the perfect place to escape the city lights and immerse yourself in the wonders of the cosmos. Whether it's Northumberland International Dark Sky Park's vast expanse, Yorkshire Dales' scenic landscapes, North York Moors' annual dark sky festival, Kielder Observatory's professional guidance, Galloway Forest Park's unspoiled views, South Downs' discovery sites, or Exmoor National Park's high cliffs, each location offers a unique stargazing experience.

But remember, no matter where you choose to stargaze in the Northern UK, it's crucial to respect the natural environment and keep light pollution to a minimum. This ensures not only your ability to enjoy the night sky but also preserves these beautiful locations for future generations.

The next time you gaze up at the night sky, remember that each star has a story. The Northern UK's dark skies offer an unrivalled chance to listen to these stories and marvel at the universe's incredible vastness. So, grab your telescope, venture out into the dark, and let the Northern UK's night sky enchant you.

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