Don’t forget to look up

Stargazing is a magical experience for everyone to enjoy especially when visiting the Isles of Scilly. With no light pollution the islands has some of the darkest skies in the UK, making the islands the perfect spot for you to look up as the autumn nights draw in.

The night sky is full of stories, adventures and curiosities and with the islands being surrounded by large stretches of water it makes the stargazing experience is even more special as the long low horizons give you a fantastic sightline to spot more things – particularly planets.

On a clear night there’s no better season to be mesmerised by the sheer number of stars that can be seen – it’s simply breath-taking. So, read our beginners guide to stargazing, then grab your coat, a blanket and a hot drink and head to one of the Isles of Scilly’s five Dark Sky Discovery Sites to start exploring – Garrison Playing Field (St Mary’s), St Martin’s Cricket Pitch, St Agnes Cricket Pitch, Bryher’s Community Centre Play Park Area and Tresco’s Playing Fields.

Our beginner tips for stargazing 

  • The best time for stargazing is an hour and a half after sunset and to avoid the days around a full moon
  • Turn off all the lights around you If you need a torch only use one with a red light setting
  • Allow your eyes time to adjust the longer you look up the more stars you’ll discover
  • Download an app like Star Walk or Google Sky Map they can tell you what stars you can see from your current location
  • The night sky is constantly changing, start by finding one constellation then try looking for it at different times of the night and year to see how it moves about in the sky
  • Don’t expect to know it all at once. The more you can stargaze, the more you’ll be able to identify.

For more information on stargazing on the Isles of Scilly visit COSMOS. The community observatory on St. Martin’s is open to the public every Tuesday night (8-10pm) and Friday afternoons (2-4pm), regardless of the weather from April-October. The team of enthusiastic amateur astronomers are happy to help you learn more about the beautiful night sky on the islands.