The dark night skies above the Shropshire Hills make it truly a phenomenal location for stargazers to stare up at the heavens overhead.
There are no fewer than four Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the area, all of them on or around the Long Mynd, but there are many places not designated which have little light pollution.
These sites are designated by UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership, which includes the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics among its members.
Dark Sky Discovery Sites must meet basic standards. Typically they are at least 100 square metres in size –large enough to accommodate 30 stargazers, with good public access, and firm ground for wheelchairs. You do need to take care though, as in the dark it is very easy to fall if you leave the car park areas.
All four Shropshire Hills sites have the darkest Milky Way Class rating, meaning that the skies are dark enough to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. From the Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Long Mynd, views of the Milky Way are fabulous. You don’t need special equipment to enjoy the night sky, as you can see so much with the naked eye – although binoculars and telescopes bring new dimensions to the experience. You can catch magical photos too, but you will need a tripod.
The four Dark Sky sites in the Shropshire Hills are all at National Trust car parks; Carding Mill Valley, Cross Dyke Car Park at Boiling Well, Pole Cottage, and Shooting Box Car Parks
For more information about stargazing events visit Shropshire Astronomical Society’s Facebook page and the Long Mynd Dark Skies Facebook page . The dark skies of the Long Mynd mean that, from time to time, you may also be able to see the Northern Lights. Visit AuroraWatch UK to learn when the Aurora Borealis may be visible.
The four sites are at Carding Mill Valley, Cross Dyke Car Park at Boiling Well, Pole Cottage, and Shooting Box Car Parks .
Watch out for Stars In Your Skies walks events at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms.