Travel Where to see the Geminids meteor shower tonight

Where to see the Geminids meteor shower tonight

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An astronomer once told me that for thousands of years most humans would spend their evenings gathered around the fire, telling tales of the characters they saw in the stars; today, being enveloped by a properly dark sky brings us a little closer to that lost world. It’s a deep reconnection with nature at its most infinite.

Seeing the stars might actually be good for our health, too. Disrupting the daily rhythm of light and dark with artificial illuminations is connected with processes that can result in chronic disease; by igniting the night, we’re stressing our bodies to an inorganic barrage with which they’re ill-equipped to deal.

Nothing widens your perspective like learning more about the universe. But ultimately all you need to do is look up, if you find the right place…

Here’s where to see the Geminids meteor shower.

Cheshire & the Peak District

Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, home to the 250ft diameter Lovell Telescope, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about outer space here, then head east into the Peak District for good dark skies. For instance, a night hike up the Bronze Age hill fort of Mam Tor affords unobstructed views with little in the way of light pollution.

Jodrell Bank is open daily, 10am-5pm. Adults/children £12/£8

Exmoor, Devon & Somerset

In 2011, Exmoor was designated Europe’s First International Dark Sky Reserve. The park’s communities continue to work together to reduce light pollution, ensuring it remains one of the country’s best astronomy spots – especially sites within the core dark sky zone, including Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Webbers Post and Wimbleball Lake. Pick up a stargazing leaflet from one of the national park centres, which also hire telescopes.

Telescope hire from £25 per night. More information can be found on theExmoor National Park website.

Brecon Beacons, Wales

Wales’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, the Brecon Beacons has extremely low light pollution and exceptionally good astronomical potential. Accessible and glittering locations include the car park at Pen-Rhiw-Ddu, just off the road that runs over the Black Mountain; the National Park Visitor Centre, near Libanus, where there’s plenty of space to set up telescopes; Usk Reservoir, which is well shielded from the light pollution of southern Wales; and crag-top Carreg Cennen (just outside the park, near Llandeilo), where you can see some of the region’s darkest skies twinkle above the castle ruins. Dark sky events are occasionally held.

Find out more on theBrecon Beacons website.

Glenlivet and Tomintoul, Cairngorms

Remote, lowly populated and surrounded by 800m hills that protect it from light pollution, Glenlivet and Tomintoul – the world’s northernmost Dark Sky Park – has some of the UK’s blackest skies. It’s ideal not only for amazing gazing but, given the latitude, does afford a chance to catch the “mirrie dancers”, or northern lights. There are three Dark Sky Discovery Sites within the park, with car parking and interpretation. Field of Hope has exceptionally good all-round visibility to the horizon; the outer planets can be seen here year round. The remote Carrachs and Blairfindy Moor are especially good for the northern lights and outer planets between September and March.

Parking is free across theGlenlivet Estate.

Long Mynd, Shropshire

A lot of National Trust land – from Cambridgeshire’s Wicken Fen to Wasdale in Cumbria – is good for stargazing; National Trust sites also have good car parks and sometimes wider, more even footpaths, making it easier to access more remote areas at night. Try the Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd, where there are four Dark Sky Discovery Sites, all of which have been awarded the higher “Milky Way class” designation, which means that the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye.

Parking atLong Mynd costs £5.50.

Northumberland

Northumberland boasts Europe’s largest area of protected night sky, and there’s possibly no clearer and more vibrant cosmological display than the one you’ll get here. On a clear night you will see the Milky Way, plentiful meteors and – if you’re lucky – the International Space Station. History lovers should twin night sky watching with a trip to Vindolanda, an excellent museum on the site of another former key military post.

Find out more via our guide toNorthumberland National Park.

Isles of Scilly

Some 28 miles  from any mainland light pollution, the Isles of Scilly have spectacularly dark skies. In February 2019 a group of amateur astronomers opened the most south-westerly observatory in the UK. Built in a designated Dark Sky Discovery Zone, the community-funded facility has two domes (one for deep sky viewing, one with the capacity for solar viewing) and a warm room where regular talks and workshops are held. Really, though, the Geminids should be visible from anywhere on the islands.

The Isles of Scilly tourist board has more information about stargazing on itswebsite.

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