Stargazing in the Scottish Highlands is exceptional. The clarity of the night skies makes for an excellent experience whether you’re new to stargazing or a seasoned watcher.
The best places to stargaze in Scotland are at the Taransay and Glen Nevis Visitor centre. It’s the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world. With a bit of luck and being there at the right time, you may even get to view the Mirrie Dancers, otherwise known as an aurora.
Top Tips for Stargazing in the Scottish Highlands
Are you planning a stargazing trip to the Highlands? If so, you need to come prepared. We’ve put together a list of things you need to bring and what to watch out for:
- Lots of waterproofs and layers because it gets chilly at night
- Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings
- Take a star chart, so you know what you’re looking at – alternative use an App
- Have a red flashlight with you which won’t impact your night vision
- Wear appropriate footwear – preferably waterproof boots
- Binoculars so you can see the stars and other heavenly bodies in greater detail (optional)
How you should stargaze
Stargazing is not complicated. All you have to do is look up at the heavens. Here are some of our top tips for stargazing safely:
- Make sure you have dressed appropriately because it can get cold when you’re stargazing in the Scottish Highlands. Wear a warm jacket, thick gloves, socks, scarf and hat
- Choose the best stargazing site. You could stargaze from Dunalastair Hotel Suites. Or you could head to the Dark Sky Park, where there’s no light pollution.
- Let your vision adapt to the darkness before you look up at the night sky. Once your sight has adjusted, the skies appear clearer and more exciting. This is known as ‘dark adaptation’ in astronomical circles. It takes around 30-minutes for your vision to adapt
- Take your time and look at each individual star in a multitude of stars. Once you get a little experience, you’ll differentiate whether you’re looking at a star, planet or satellite!
- Use some stargazing apps on your tablet or smartphone. Like this, you can quickly find and recognise the many constellations, planets and stars.
Five great stargazing apps are:
- Stellarium Mobile Free
- Star Tracker
- Mobile Observatory Free
The best of Scotland’s stargazing locations
When the skies are clear, there’s an amazing number of stars, planets and constellations visible when you stargaze in Scotland. Then, of course, there’s always the added bonus of seeing the Northern Lights if you’re very lucky!
We’ve put together our list of Scotland’s top stargazing sites:
1.Galloway Forest Park
The journey north of Glentrool Visitor Centre is a delight during the day. However, it’s at night that things get exciting for stargazers. You can head to Loch Riecawr or the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre for a great stargazing experience. Plus, there’s lots of car parking and room telescopes!
2. Isle of Lewis
Although the Isle of Lewis has not been recognised as a Dark Sky Discovery Site, mainly due to its remoteness, it’s still a superb stargazing location! The Royal Astronomical Society has listed Gallan Head as an official dark skies site.
3. Isle of Coll
Head to the Isle of Coll for an exciting view of the night skies and the sun during daylight hours. The community centre holds Coll & the Cosmos weekends in collaboration with the Cosmos Planetarium.
There’s the chance to view the skies through large telescopes (18-inch Dobsonian) and watch solar activity through a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope during the day.
4. Melrose, Scottish Borders
You can book a stay in a glamorous caravan called Devanna when visiting Melrose on the Scottish Borders. The caravan overlooks the lake, which is perfect for stargazing.
A short hour’s drive south takes you to Kielder Forest Park International Dark Sky Park, another excellent stargazing site.
The Outer Hebrides may seem far away, but Taransay provides some of the best stargazing areas in Scotland. It’s well worth the trip because, on a clear night, the skies are simply incredible.
6. Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides
There are nine Milky Way Class Dark Sky Discovery sites on the Isle of Skye, so it’s no wonder that visitors flock to the island every year. Head to the northwest of the isle to Waternish or Kylerhea and Kinloch Forest for a superb stargazing experience.
7. Eriska, Argyll and Bute
You get to Eriska via a vehicle bridge, and the trip is well worth it. There are 350 acres of island that makes for excellent stargazing location choices.
8. Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, Fort William
The Glen Nevis Visitor Centre is a renowned Dark Sky Discovery site just a few miles out of Fort William. The glen is rated as Milky Way Class. Because of its location with Ben Nevis towering above, it’s the ideal site for hikers to enjoy a brilliant stargazing experience.
Accommodation Choice for a great experience stargazing in Scotland
At Dunalastair Hotel Suites, we offer a brilliant 2-nights package for two adults and two children. The package comprises breakfast and your choice of a picnic lunch or afternoon cream tea in our superb restaurant, the Monadh.
Prices start from £450, this package offers you all you need to relax and recharge.
Or you can enjoy a relaxing weekend getaway for two with our special luxury package, which starts at £145.
We look forward to welcoming you to our splendid 5-stay hotel, a location that will have you returning again and again.
Explore our latest special offers online today. To book a reservation, call us now on +44 (0)1882 580444.