Stargazing in the region’s forest is a must

What you could see!
What you could see!

ANYONE looking for a stunning way to get over the winter blues is invited to join one of a series of night time trips to Galloway Dark Sky Park and be star-struck.

Forestry Commission Scotland’s Galloway team says that although they’re halfway through the 2011/12 observing season (October to April), it’s not yet too late to look skyward and experience something amazing - and profound.

Head of Tourism and Recreation for Scotland, the Forrestry Commision's Keith Muir on the left and Steve Owens, U.K. Co-ordinator for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 unveil the plaque to commemorate the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.

Head of Tourism and Recreation for Scotland, the Forrestry Commision's Keith Muir on the left and Steve Owens, U.K. Co-ordinator for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 unveil the plaque to commemorate the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.

Lucy Hadley, Recreation Ranger with the Commission’s Galloway team, said: “Winter – on a clear night – is the best time to go star-gazing because it gets properly dark early on in the evening.

“In a town or city – or even if you stay in a rural area that’s not far from a big town or city, light pollution can really ‘spoil’ darkness. But come into the forest where there’s no light pollution and the night sky is really opened up to reveal things that you can’t normally see.

“It’s an amazing sight to look up at the night sky and see light that has taken millions of years to cross space to reach your eye. It can be quite a profound and humbling experience – but without a doubt it’s the best lightshow you’ll ever see.”

A number of events across January and February will help newcomers and experienced star-gazers to get the most out of a trip to the Park. All events (except the Dark Sky Park Trip) are weather dependent. Check the Commission’s Dark Sky Park webpage for updates before coming along to an event…just in case. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/forestry.nsf/byunique/infd-8aul9p

• Stargazing for beginners - Monday 23rd January 7pm

Come along to Kirroughtree visitor centre and join Forestry Commission Scotland staff on a visual tour of the Galloway Forest Park’s Dark Sky.

• Dark Sky Park Trip - Friday 27th January

Join Forestry Commission Scotland staff at Glentrool on a night focussing on the dark skies of Galloway. Transport will be laid on from Castle Douglas (5.30pm pick up) then picking up at Gatehouse, Creetown and Newton Stewart. (Due to the limited number of places available at the venue booking is essential for this event. Reserve your place by calling 01671 402 420. Cost - £10 if making your own way there and paying at the door, £17 if making use of return transport.)

• Starlight Serenade, Kirroughtree visitor centre - Tuesday 14th February 7pm-8pm

Stuck for Valentines day gift ideas? Dazzle your darling and join Forestry Commission Staff for an introduction to the UK’s only Dark Sky Park and an evening under our bewitching night sky.

• Stargazing for beginners, Kirroughtree visitor centre - Thursday 16th February 7pm

Join Forestry Commission Scotland staff on a visual tour of the Galloway Forest Park’s Dark Sky.

Anyone coming along to the 23 January or either of the February events should wrap up very warm and bring a torch with a red filter if you have one. As a mark of appreciation for these events a £3 donation to Galloway Forest Park Astronomy Society would also be very welcome.