Romantic, mysterious and magical. All of these words can describe a twinkling, star-filled night sky. There is something so unique about seeing a clear night sky that can generate so many different emotions and it’s even more special when you don’t need to travel too far to see one.
Away from the bright lights of populated towns and cities, the Peak District is a haven for those keen on spotting constellations. You only have to travel 20 miles from Derby before you enter the Peak District, making the national park perfect for any budding Derbyshire astronomers.
The park is void of modern intrusions that can hinder would-be astronomers, and on a clear night you can marvel at the heavens of thousands of stars. EssentialLiving even listed the Peak District as one of the best and most accessible stargazing spots in the country.
With more than 300 Airbnbs in the area and over 398,000 pictures having been captured of this dazzling region via Instagram, make sure to take your best camera to capture those scenic views. Although there are plenty of spots in the national park to view the night sky in all its glory, three spots have been officially recognised for their stargazing potential.
Officially referred to as “dark sky places”, these are areas that have been recognised for their low levels of light pollution and good public access. The three official dark sky places which are located at national park car parks are as follows:
- Surprise View, off the A6187 near Hathersage
- Parsley Hay, off the A515 near Hartington (nearest postcode SK17 0DG)
- Minninglow, off the A515 at Pikehall (nearest postcode DE4 2PN)
Each of these sites are easily accessible and have stunning panoramic views during the day. There are astronomy interpretation panels in place at each site to help people explore the night sky, which are changed each season.
When Surprise View was made an official dark sky place, John Tanner, a research officer for the Peak District National Park Authority and keen astronomer, said: “Most people know Surprise View for its panoramic views of the Hope Valley and the surrounding landscape, but the site has more to offer.
“It is 15 times darker than the centre of Sheffield and because it’s away from street lights and the glow of nearby towns and cities, it means that people are able to experience the panorama in the dark sky. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – 2.5 million light-years away – the furthest away feature in the universe that can be seen with the naked eye.”
More information about dark sky spots in Derbyshire and across the country can be found here. Of course there are other spots in the national park which make for amazing views of the night’s sky, so if you think we have missed a fantastic spot for astronomy fanatics let us know in the comments below.