The best places in Scotland for stargazing

Galloway Forest Park. Picture: Contributed.
Galloway Forest Park. Picture: Contributed.
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Scotland is home to some of Europe’s largest patches of star-rich dark skies.

If the weather is clear thousands of stars are visible to the naked eye from various vantage points in the country.

Here are just some of our favourites.

Galloway Forest Park

Over 7,000 stars, including the distinctive band of the Milky Way, are visible from the first of Scotland’s two Dark Sky Parks.

Situated in the south-west of the country, light pollution is at a minimum in the 75,000 hectares of forest, and views are apparently best at Clatteringshaws, which overlooks the pitch black forest.

Stargazers can also enjoy views of the night’s sky from either end of Carrick Forest Drive.

The Isle of Coll

There are no streetlights on the Isle of Coll - in fact the nearest streetlight to the island is 32 kilometres away - which perhaps explains why the remote island enjoys remarkably starry skies.

In 2013 the island was rewarded for its lack of street lamps and was named Scotland’s second Dark Sky Park and the world’s second Dark Sky island - after Channel Island Sark.

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If the skies remain clear you’ll be able to take in thousands of stars from the Hebridean island, though accommodation on the island is limited so be sure to book in good time.

Assynt

Situated in Scotland’s very Northern reaches, Loch Assynt isn’t a day trip away for the majority of us, but stargazers who do venture this far will reap the rewards of unpolluted skies.

On the north-west banks of the loch is a Dark Sky Discovery site - an officially recognised area for excellent stargazing.

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If weather lets you down, stargazers can lower their gazes and take comfort in knowing that they’re in one of the country’s wildest beauty spots.

Kintyre

From the west coast of Kintyre, the Milky Way is often clearly visible.

The area became a Dark Sky Discovery Site in 2012 and West Kintyre Stargazers hold stargazing events from the Argyll Hotel in Bellochantuy on a regular basis.

As well as sky observation, the group hold frequent astronomy talks and presentations.

Moffat

Moffat earned Dark Sky Community Status in 2016 after starry sky friendly lighting was rolled out across the town.

In Moffat, stargazers can see at least 17 of the stars which make up the four corner points of Orion, compared to the six or seven which would be visible from a normal town.

Newbattle Abbey

Situated to the south of Dalkeith, Newbattle Abbey is the best place to stargaze in close vicinity to Edinburgh.

The abbey was awarded Orion site status by Dark Sky Scotland, meaning that the eight main stars of the constellation are easily visible.