Stargazing in Pembrokeshire
One of the best areas in the country to see the night sky is Pembrokeshire.
And THE best place in Pembrokeshire to view the Milky Way is the designated Dark Sky of the National Trust car park at Broadhaven South.
When the sun goes down and the night sky darkens the whole universe reveals itself above Pembrokeshire and all you need to do to experience it is step outside…
National Trust Dark Sky events
If your family are new to reading the stars then a National Trust Dark Sky event at Stackpole Estate is for you.
A mobile planetarium is inflated inside the Stackpole Centre, looking like a large black dome tent. Stepping inside you meet Welsh astronomer Allan Trow, who takes you on an exhilarating journey across the night sky using the latest technology to project a clear skies view of the stars onto the ceiling of the planetarium dome.
In February some of the highlights of that night’s sky included watching Venus and Mars on the western horizon at sunset and Jupiter shining in the eastern sky. We moved through the Big Dipper, Orion and even got to spot the black hole.
While the naked eye can see lots of large stars and planets we can see more if we use binoculars, telescope or SLR cameras. Allan zoomed in on planets, nebulas and black holes to unfold the incredible story of the universe around us and give us an astronomer’s view of the sky.
The Dark Sky team have brought down powerful telescopes for everyone to look through, so with these tips in hand we step outside and see what we can find. We were shown how to locate and use the North Star – Polaris – to align the telescopes and then it was an exciting hour of searching around the sky to see what we can find.
Did you know that the centre star on Orion’s ‘sword’ (below Orion’s belt) is actually a nebular, which is where planets are born from – easy to see through binoculars, as is the shinning blue of the 7 Sisters. Jupiter is another good planet to look at through binoculars, although you will see its atmosphere if you have a telescope.
This is a great family event, run by an enthusiastic team where the excitement of the night’s discoveries will keep you looking up at the night sky for many moons to come.
If you missed this Dark Sky event don’t worry, you can still access the Dark Sky Discovery website for star gazing tips, downloads and videos to help you get to grips with the night sky in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Top Tips for watching the night sky in Pembrokeshire:
- Choose a clear night, around the new moon, with no cloud
- Download a Dark Sky Discovery stargazing pocket guide
- Bring your binoculars if you don’t have a telescope, lots of planets will be visible using these
- Start by locating the North Star – Polaris. This will help you read the stargazing guide
- Stars twinkle, planets don’t
- The best times to see meteors are an hour before dawn
- Meteor showers take place in August, November and December
Dark Sky Discovery sites
Dark Sky Discovery sites are recognised for being one of the very best sites in the UK to watch the night sky without too much interference from light pollution. Bosherston South car park was designated a Dark Sky site in 2013, where the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye, weather permitting.
Dark Sky Discovery have added 7 more Pembrokeshire sites to their database of great places to view the stars:
- Garn Fawr National Trust car park (SA64 OJJ)
- Kete National Trust car park (SA62 3RR)
- Martin's Haven National Trust car park (SA62 3BJ)
- Newgale Beach Pembrokeshire National Park car park (SA62 6BD)
- Poppit Sands Pembrokeshire National Park car park (SA43 3LN)
- Skrinkle Haven Pembrokeshire National Park car park (SA70 7SD)
- Sychpant Pembrokeshire National Park picnic site (SA65 9UA)
Pick a clear night, wrap up warm, fill the flask and head out to one of the news sites for a meteor shower or a glimpse of the Milky Way - you won’t be disappointed.
Loving the night sky photography? Want to know more about capturing your own astrology images? Check out the astrophotography workshops run by local landscape photographer Drew Buckley. Drew offers night workshops for small groups, to help you create your own beautiful images of the Milky Way or star trails.
And when you get those incredible night sky images remember to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter - Happy star gazing!