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A look at Astronomical photography - Never Seen Star Wars? (or the Milky Way) - part 3 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

by Mike McNamee Published 01/12/2016


The first and most important thing you need is a truly dark sky. In all of our cities and conurbations the light pollution level is such that only a few stars can be seen. Step away from the city lights and you get to see hundreds or even thousands of stars. The Milky Way, though is more elusive than this; you need somewhere truly dark and in terms of photography around this part of the world this means about three stops darker than even the unlit beaches of the Wirral.

The dark skies are defined (and to a smaller extent regulated) by the International Dark Sky Association which maps and reports on light pollution and can offer advice where needed or requested on achieving and maintaining a dark environment. They have designated spaces where light pollution is low and the night sky may be seen in all its glory.


Of 11 Dark Sky Reserves in the world, the UK has four: Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Snowdonia and South Downs. Other sites in the UK carry recognised status such as: Cairngorm, Northumberland, North York Moors and the Lake District (by way of example). More information may be found by following the URL: where more than 100 sites are listed.

The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is one of the popular centres in the UK and star-watching events are run from the Kielder Observatory just north of Hadrianís Wall. They also publish the map shown. The courses seem very popular and so booking is essential The vulnerability of an expedition there (especially if you travel from the south of England) is that it might be clouded over, but who says star gazing does not need dedication?

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1st Published 01/12/2016
last update 30/01/2018 12:09:32

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Updated 30/01/2018 12:09:32 Last Modified: Tuesday, 30 January 2018