Image

Dark Skies in Galloway Forest Park

A stellar spectacular

Over 7,000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye from the Forest Park, and the bright band of the Milky Way is usually easy to see arching across the sky. There’s a new show every night because, as we travel round the sun, we’re getting a constantly changing view of the stars. Which seasonal celestial displays will you spot?

Limited light pollution

Galloway Forest Park has around 75,000 hectares of land, where limited numbers of buildings means we can keep light pollution to a minimum. In addition, we have some control over development of this land, making it easier to control sources of light.

Why are we losing the dark?

How dark is dark?

The Forest Park has a Sky Quality Meter (SQM) scale reading of 21 to 23.6. The SQM scale runs from 0 to 25 and, to put it in context, in the middle of a major city such as Glasgow or Edinburgh, you would get a reading of around 8, whereas a reading of 24 would be measured in a photographer's dark room. Based on this scale, the Forest Park’s score gives us as near to total darkness - meaning clear, starry skies for all to enjoy.

Visiting the Dark Sky Park

You’ll get a great view from any of the three visitor centres - particularly at Clatteringshaws, which overlooks the unlit heart of the Forest Park. There are Dark Sky information points at the visitor centres and at a series of sites across the Forest Park to help you identify the constellations and planets you can see, and there are panoramic viewing points at either end of the Carrick Forest Drive in the northern part of the Forest Park.

More information about what you can see and where:

Please note, you do not need permission to view in the park or to use the designated viewing areas.

Look out for our Dark Sky events in the Forest Park too, and visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory near Dalmellington, which is home to a research grade telescope.

Find out more about dark skies

Interested in learning more about Galloway and its Dark Skies? Listen to Galloway ranger Lucy share her expert knowledge of the nocturnal spectacle in her Dark Skies podcast, or take a look at some of the recommended links below.