The dark skies at Ross Bay Retreat and Dumfries & Galloway are some of the best in the UK. We have very little light pollution here making it a great place for stargazing. On a clear night outside our holiday cottages you can see thousands of stars, wonderful astronomical sights as well as spectacular views of the Milky Way.
Galloway Forest Park – Designated ‘Dark Sky Park’
Our area is renowned for its dark skies and the Galloway Forest Park was designated a ‘Dark Sky Park’ for its breath taking and rare stargazing conditions. It was only the fourth Dark Sky Park in the world, and the first in the UK. There are now over 100 Dark Sky Parks worldwide.
Nights in the 300 square miles of forest and hills in the Galloway Forest Park are very black due to its remoteness, sparse population and newly adopted lighting management plan. With the naked eye there are many night-time wonders to behold when many pull their curtains to close out the dark.
Highlights of the Night Skies
There are over 7,000 stars and planets visible to the naked eye. You may be lucky enough to see some of these amazing highlights from your doorstep or within the Galloway Forest Park:
- The planet Venus shines so brightly & is invariably the first ‘star’ to appear in the sky at dusk after the sun sets
- The Northern Lights – the beautiful light show of the Aurora Borealis
- International Space Station
- The Milky Way
- Shooting Stars & Meteor Showers
- Spot the The Big & Little Dipper, Orion (the Hunter) and well known constellations
Stargazing for Beginners
- Download a Star Chart app on your smartphone and pick out your favourite stars – (Handy Tip – Use red night vision mode)
- Acclimatise – it takes approximately 15 minutes or so to get your night vision
- Check for night sky events, meteor showers, International Space Station location
- Avoid the full moon – it is wonderful to see but creates too much light to see the nights skies clearly
- Head to water – reflections and clear panoramic views of the night skies
- Bring an extra layer – keep warm to enjoy the natural night views even more
- Use a red light head torch to find your way about, white or blue torches will affect your night vision
- Binoculars are easy to carry and brilliant for seeing the moon, planets and some deep sky objects
Kirkcudbright Dark Sky Planetarium
The brand new Dark Space Planetarium at nearby Kirkcudbright is an incredible interactive experience for all ages. The night sky is brought truly alive, clear night skies all day long in the immersive Planetarium domed cinema screen. It also gives virtual trips to the edge of the Universe and journeys around the Earth. There are some excellent interactive science and space themed exhibits and definitely one of our local recommendations. It really is a great place to visit and learn more about the magic of our dark skies.
Enjoy Our Wonderful Dark Night Skies
Come back from the planetarium and be inspired to stargaze at Ross Bay and recognise the famous night sights on our clear nights.