5 of the best places to go stargazing in Norfolk this summer
- Credit: Mark Bullimore
As a largely rural county with low levels of light pollution, Norfolk is a great place for stargazing.
Across the country there are more than 150 Dark Sky Discovery Sites, with several in our region.
There you can enjoy stunning celestial views of the Milky Way and constellations such as Orion, and which are accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
Because of its uncommonly dark skies, north Norfolk is also one of the best places in the country to spot the rare and beautiful phenomenon the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights.
You’ll also find a number of observatories and astronomical societies which hold regular stargazing events – and even stargazing parties.
With the Perseid meteor shower reaching its peak on August 12-13, now is the perfect time to go star spotting.
And don’t miss the Norfolk Dark Skies Festival this autumn.
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Held from September 25 to October 10, there’s a packed programme of walks, talks and more all over the county, including at Horsey, Holkham, Titchwell, Snettisham, Cley and more. See norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk for details.
If you’re a budding astronomer, here are some of the darkest places and observatories in Norfolk.
So, grab your binoculars or telescope and train your eyes on the skies.
On the north Norfolk coast, Wiveton Downs is a 71-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The area is of great biological and geological importance because of its rich wildlife and rare geological formations including a glacial landform – known as an esker – which is used for research and teaching purposes.
And during the night it is in practically pitch darkness, which is why it has been awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site status.
See visitnorthnorfolk.com for details
Norwich Astronomical Society
Based at Seething Observatory, the Norwich Astronomical Society has been exploring the cosmos from Norfolk since 1945.
With around 150 members, the group puts on a host of intriguing events including talks exploring topics such as astrobiology – considering the question of extraterrestrial life – star parties and stargazing events.
And there are also events that are open to the public including observatory open nights.
Opening of the observatory and events are currently limited due to the pandemic, but see norwichastro.org.uk for details.
Kelling Heath Holiday Park
The award-winning Kelling Heath Holiday Park’s 300 acres of north Norfolk woodland and open heathland are home to countless species of flora and fauna, including butterflies, bees, bats and red squirrels.
With plenty of walking trails and cycling routes, it’s a popular spot for holiday makers who love to explore the great outdoors.
And in 2017, it was awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site status.
It has been designated as two star site, with the seven stars of the Orion constellation and the Milky Way visible to the naked eye.
If you’re booking a stay, don’t forget your torch – artificial lighting is kept to a minimum to reduce light pollution so that visitors can enjoy the full celestial spectacle of hundreds of thousands of twinkling stars and planets.
See kellingheath.co.uk for information
King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society
Based at Tottenhill, King’s Lynn and District Astonomy Society is planning to re-start its events programme in the next few weeks and members will be setting up their telescopes at Deepdale Backpackers on the north Norfolk coast as part of the Deepdale Festival on September 24-25.
They will also be taking part in the Norfolk Dark Skies Festival, which is being held around the county from September 25-October 10.
To find out more about King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society visit westnorfolkastro.co.uk
Breckland Astronomical Society
You don’t have to head to the north Norfolk coast to find dark night skies in the county.
Breckland Astronomical Society calls the village of Great Ellingham, near Attleborough, home. It was founded in 1993 and has its own observatory, built in an area of relative darkness.
Member meetings are currently taking place virtually because of the pandemic.
The society usually hosts biannual star parties in spring and autumn at Haw Wood Farm near Saxmundham.
And free public observing nights are held at the observatory on the last Friday of the month.
See brecklandastro.org.uk for information.