Stargazing Throughout the Year
Exmoor National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve and home to some of the darkest skies in the country! On a clear night, the night sky of Exmoor is absolutely stunning; with many amazing astronomical sights seen with the naked eye and even more to be discovered through binoculars or a telescope.
Stargazing here on Exmoor is an all year-round activitiy, and any clear night will provide plenty to see! Aim to start observing at least 1.5 hrs after sunset to allow time for the sky to become properly dark. Check moonrise. As beautiful as it is, the best time for stargazing is when the moon isn’t in the sky.
Exmoor Dark Sky Friendly Accredited Businesses
The following accommodation and activity providers have all received dark skies training and have been accredited as Dark Sky Friendly businesses. They understand the importance of Exmoor's dark skies, why they need protecting and can help you make the most of our incredibly dark skies with advice and stargazing equipment/resources available for your stay.
Exmoor National Park have designated two areas as natural hubs for viewing the night skies, Wimbleball lake with a viewing platform to look out over the water, and Exford Bridge tearooms who have teamed up with Wild About Exmoor to be a centre for information and events, all about our wonderful skies. Check out the Events page upcoming dark skies discovery evenings.
Stargazing: Top Tips
Here are a few of our top tips to help plan your trip to explore Exmoor's magnificant starscape.
WHEN TO GO
Spring - The often crisp clear nights of March and April can be particularly good months for observing.
Late summer\Autumn – Prime time for spotting shooting stars, due to the earth’s orbit passing through the trail of several large comets.
Winter - Make the most of longer nights for younger astronomers to enjoy some pre-bedtime observing.
WHAT TO BRING
Your eyes: Familiarise yourself with the night sky just using your naked eyes. If you are ready to invest in binoculars or telescopes then get in touch with your local astronomical club for expert advice, or rent one from our National Park Centres or online at www.darkskytelescopehire.co.uk
A red light: Your eyes can take up to ten minutes to fully adjust to the dark and your “night vision” to kick in, giving you the best view of the stars. During this time avoid looking at bright lights. Red lights, such as a rear bike lamp, are much better at preserving your night vision than white lights.
Starcharts: The position of the stars and planets is constantly changing with time and location, but there are many resources available to help you pinpoint the night sky, including simple star maps, planispheres that allow you to set the date, and smartphone apps. Pick up a free Dark Skies Pocket Guide at our National Park Centres for some basic star charts.
Warm clothes: Clear nights are often chilly - so wrap up warm and bring a hot drink. A reclining chair and blanket may be useful if you plan to stay out longer.
WHERE TO GO
Generally the further you are from illuminated built-up areas the darker the sky will be and the more stars you will be able to see. Recommended locations include:
Brendon Common (South of Lynmouth)
County Gate Car Park (off A39 between Lynmouth and Porlock)
Bossington Hill near Minehead
Dunkery Beacon and Webber’s Post