When did you last see the stars in the night sky?
Unplug from daily life and go and discover something bigger from some exceptional stargazing destinations, here on your doorstop in East Sussex.
Stargazing is an inspiring and inexpensive way to get out of the house, switch off and get away from it all. And some of the very best locations are to be found in the south of England, across the counties of Hampshire, West and East Sussex.
The South Downs National Park has become famous for its clear visibility of the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy. It became internationally recognised in 2016 when it was named the 11th location in the world to gain Dark Sky Reserve status.
This coveted certification from the International Dark-Sky Association is only given to areas with minimal light pollution.
Moore’s Reserve – South Downs
This Dark Sky Reserve is named after Sir Patrick Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS (1923-2-12), who lived in Sussex, was president of the British Astronomical Association, author of over seventy books on astronomy, and presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, BBC’s The Sky at Night.
It’s remarkable that we can enjoy these dark skies from within easy reach of London which is one of the most light-polluted cities on Earth.
The South Downs stretch across 628 square miles and is home to some spectacular night time stargazing opportunities:
The Birling Gap, BN20 0AB
This is a semi-rural, coastal spot near Eastbourne, that is widely recognised for its stargazing opportunities. With free over-night parking and toilet facilities it’s perfect for visiting with family or friends. Birling Gap, lunar cycles and best times to stargaze.
The Ditchling Beacon, BN6
This stargazing spot is located just north of Brighton and stands as the highest point in East Sussex, with a 360 degree view from the summit. Visibility can vary and is dependent on the time of year and the lunar cycle. Ditchling Beacon, lunar cycles and best times to stargaze.
If you fancy venturing outside of East Sussex, Devil’s Dyke is also a prime location, not that far from Ditchling. Or if you’re looking to venture elsewhere, visit the Go Stargazing website for destinations all over the UK.
For the best experience, wrap up warm and go when there’s no bright moon at night (avoid the time around the full moon). How about a night hike? A night time picnic? Grab some binoculars or make your own, and do some research beforehand, to know what you’re looking for. You could even download and print a star chart, or get one of the stargazing apps that are available! More tips on getting the best stargazing experience.
Photo credit: Nick Rowland CC BY-ND 2.0, taken at Birling Gap