Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Stargazing live: Astronomers stage Isle of Man events

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionStargazing live: Astronomers stage Isle of Man events

Budding astronomers are being encouraged to take advantage of the island's dark skies during a three day stargazing live event.

The island's Astronomical Society will provide telescopes, binoculars and guidance to encourage people to make the most of the night sky.

Chairman Howard Parkin said: "It's a great hobby. You can't help but marvel at the wonders of the night sky."

The events will be held at Onchan Park at 19:00 GMT until Thursday.

In October seven Manx sites were granted Dark Sky status by an international body which recognises stargazing locations around the world.

No motorways

The areas recognised by the Dark Sky Association include Smeale Nature Reserve, Niarbyl and The Sound.

The classification is given to promote astronomy and energy efficiency.

Director of Manx National Heritage (MNH), Edmund Southworth, said the island now has the largest concentration of dark sky sites in Britain.

Mr Southworth said: "The Isle of Man is a small area which has never been heavily industrialised.

"Our biggest town, Douglas, only has 40,000 people in it. The rest of the 80,000 are spread over what is still a rural area.

"We have a lot of agricultural land, we don't have a motorway or big industrial estates or huge sports centres pumping light into the air.

"Add to that the fact that we have minimal air pollution so when it gets dark it is really dark. The night sky here is fantastic.

Other areas on the island given the status are Port Soderick Brooghs, Axnfell Plantation Fort Island and Sulby Reservoir Car Park.

Milky Way

Mr Parkin added: "We were asked years ago whether we would nominate sites in the Isle of Man for dark sky status because we have really do have fantastic dark skies.

Image caption The Northern Lights were recently photographed by Dave Thornley

"Seven sites were identified in the north, south, east and west of the island. It is a top place to be an astronomer."

The criteria for a dark sky site includes that the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye.

Mr Parkin added: "The beauty of the island is that it has very little light pollution. So as a consequence you only have to drive a little way to find a dark sky site and enjoy the splendour of the night sky.

"We are the only place which has seven locations in one area. The Isles Scilly have got five nominated sites but we already have seven approved and to be quite honest we could have 27.

"The stargazing live evening's will be a perfect opportunity for complete beginners or enthusiastic amateurs to learn. You might see the space station going overhead or a shooting star."

The three stargazing live events will be held in Onchan on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 19:00 GMT.

  • Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain will present their Stargazing Live series live from Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire from 8-10 January on BBC Two.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites