Image: Northumberland astronomy holiday, Stanegate Cottage, Greenhead.
Image: Astronomy holiday in Northumberland.

Dark Skies at Stanegate Cottage …

Thanks to various TV programmes, stargazing and amateur astronomy is gaining in popularity. So to are astronomy based holiday breaks. Here at Stanegate Holiday Cottage, we are very close to the internationally recognised ‘Northumberland International Dark Sky Park (NIDSP)’. The NIDSP is the largest area or protected dark sky in Europe. It covers an area of almost 15,000 square kilometres (572 square miles). Essentially, it is an area of the country where the night sky is not suffering from light pollution. The National Park Authority and Northumberland County Council have produced a lighting management plan to ensure that the skies of the NIDSP remain dark.

As a result, you can see literally hundreds of thousands of stars with the naked eye. If you know where to look and visit at the right time of the year, you can glimpse the fuzzy blob of the Andromeda galaxy. This is the furthest object that can be seen by the naked eye from the surface of our planet. It is an astonishing 2.5 million light years away. The light entering your eye began its journey before modern humans had evolved!

It is a sad fact that around 80% of the population of the UK live with skies that are heavily polluted by light. Many of us have never experienced the full glory of seeing the Milky Way. No problem – book a holiday at Stanegate Cottage and you can see it easily from the cottage patio – provided the weather is kind of course!

We are actually just outside the boundary of the NIDSP. The closest ‘Dark Sky Discovery Site’ is Cawfields. This is just a few minutes up the road by car and is well away from any local light pollution. It also gives a wide view of the sky and has good access, including firm ground for wheelchairs to use.