I have been interested in stargazing for more than 25 years - I started with the legendary BBC TV program 'The Sky at Night'.
Stargazing can be a challenging hobby, with the weather playing a major part of what you can - and often cannot - see. Sometimes the weather itself is what I have gone to see - for example the Aurora Borealis which I saw from Iceland in 2013 - again check out the Europe section of my website for more details.
Over the past 25 years I found some wonderful places to go stargazing from - some in the UK others abroad. Hopefully the information and images on this and the other pages of my website will inspire you to go find these places and astronomical events for yourselves
Stargazing around the world
If you live in a big City the amount of streetlights around you creates so much light pollution that it is difficult to see all but the brightest stars and Planets.
So this is a list of places that I have been stargazing - some are hard-core stargazing places others were bonus stargazing as part of a walking or wildlife watching holiday and the like.
England and Scotland - Adderstone Field in Dalby Forest near Pickering, Weybourne Holt near Cromer, Trefach near Mynnaclogg Dhu in Wales, Kielder Village in Kielder Forest Dark Sky Park in Northumberland and Barr a village on the outskirts of the Dumfries and Galloway Dark Sky Park
Berdun - a small village in the Spanish Pyrenees
Sinai Desert in Egypt - the 1999 Leonids Meteor Shower and the 2004 Transit of Venus
Big Island Hawaii - for the 2012 Transit of Venus
I have been visiting Dalby Forest every August for most of the past 20 years. usually during the month of August and often at the time of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Some of those visits have ben washed out but ocasionally I have had some very clear skies.
If you want to get away from the stresses of daily life come to Kielder Forest. Of course Kiedler Forest is well known for its wild weather but if you are a stargazer and you get some clear nights you will want to come back for more.
I have been going to Kielder since 2004 to attend either the Spring or Autumn Star camps - or both - as well as going independently at other times.
In 2008 a - now world famous - Observatory for amateur stargazers was built of Forestry Commission land. Whenever I go to Kielder Forest I take time to help out as a volunteer at this special place.
It is true that I have seen both the worst and the best of British weather at Kielder but I am always drawn back to sample the clean air, the quiet life and to hope for some more superb stargazing conditions which has seen me witness the Auroa Borealis in 2011 and have the ocasional crystal clear view of our Galaxy, the Milky Way
A view of the Milky Way in Spring 2015 as seen from Kielder Observatory. Image taken with a Canon 60Da and Vivitar 8mm fish-eye lens at ISO 3200
Click on the Camera icon for more online images taken from Kielder and the surrounding areas
Stargazing in south-western Scotland
Dumfries and Galloway was one of the United Kingdoms first accredited Dark Sky Parks. To get this honour measurements are taken across a location to judge the amount of artificial lighting from sources such as streetlights, security lights and domestic and indutrial activities. The less artifical lighting there is the better is the view of the Night Skies.
Planning for a trip in September 2013 I judged that there would be a reasonable chance of good weather at that time of year along with moderately dark skies even though it was at the end of the Summer not usually the normal time for stargazing.
The south-facing deck area at the back of Alton Albany Farm - which is shielded from all of the artificial light from Barr village
More images available online - click on the camera below
Like any other modern country Spain has its fair share of light polluted big cities and industrialised areas. However, if you can venture into the wilder more remote parts of Spain you can find islands of light-pllution free tranquility to see the wildlife and experience a slower pace of life - and do some stargazing too.
This was my 2011 trip to the Aragon reagion of Spain based in the picturesque village of Berdun.
The main focus of this holiday was a combination of walking a part of the Camino de Santiago long distance footpath, a course in getting the most out of my DSLR for wildlife and scenery photography and also making good use of the clear dark skies that can be had in this repmote area of Spain
A view of a cliff-face which is a stopping off point for the European Vulture and other raptors on the migration route form northern Europe to Africa and beyond
A part of the Milky Way in the constellation of Cygnus - the Swan
Click on a thumbnail to see a bigger image
Left image - the Milky Way.
Image above - M42 the Great Nebula in Orion
Landscape near Alton
Image below - the Double Cluste and the Heart and Soul Nebulae in Perseus/Cassiopeia
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A hanging valley in the Aragon region of Northern Spain
European vulture gliding on thermals near a cliff edge
The Pic du Midi - location of a European Observatory