We look forward to the Perseid meteor shower every year – streaking our skies with trails of light for a couple of weeks at a time, but this year the shower promises particularly impressive beauty. Not only does its peak fall over a weekend, when many of us are likely to be more willing to sit in the middle of a field at 1am wrapped in a blanket gazing upwards, but it also occurs during a new moon.
The shower is due to last into the third week of August, peaking this weekend when stargazers can expect to see up to 100 shooting stars over an hour. We’ve rounded up where to go for the best seats in the house for the cosmic show:
DALBY FOREST OBSERVATORY
They’ll be hosting their annual star camp, StarFest, for three nights of stargazing and astrophotography in the wonderful surroundings of the ‘Milky Way’ class Dark Sky Discovery Site this weekend. Over 100 guests can take advantage of the dark sky for the sparkling viewing. Bring your sleeping bags and tents for a one-off weekend of sleeping under the meteor shower.
KILLHOPE LEAD MINING MUSEUM
On Sunday, Killhope Lead Mining Museum will be hosting an event dedicated to stargazing in the North Pennines area of outstanding beauty at Killhope. There’ll be water rockets to launch, space-themed workshops and music from the Cream Tees, as well as projected astronomical images. Viewers are encouraged to bring their deck chairs, blankets and binoculars ready for an evening that’s truly out of this world.
THE NORTH YORK MOORS
They’re good for star watching, but at this time of year the moors are coated in vibrant purple heather too. It’s a place of absolute beauty before you’ve even spotted a single meteor. The North York Moors are away from any light pollution and Sutton Bank is a Dark Sky Discovery Site and the perfect location to roll out a blanket, lie down and look to the sky.
KIELDER WATER AND FOREST PARK
Spanning a large portion of Northumberland, this Dark Sky Park is England’s most northerly. Kielder Forest is officially the darkest place in the country – its 250 square miles of woodland beauty brush up against the Scottish border, and are the perfect view point to watch the meteor shower light up the sky.
BUCKDEN NATIONAL PARK
Another great spot to start off your stargazing is Buckden. It’s a Dark Sky Discovery Site, accessible to all members of the public and is a great place to view the night sky as it is showered in meteors.
GRIZEDALE FOREST PARK
One of the most magical destinations in the country with stunning views that span for miles on end – it’s a wonderful place to see something extraordinary. Grizedale Forest Park offers superb stargazing by night or for alternative options in the Lake District try the calming Coniston Water, Windermere or Bassenthwaite Lake offer a window into the sky that you can enjoy in total peace.