We have some of the darkest, clearest, most unpolluted skies in the world. In fact, Wales is the country with the highest percentage of its land with protected dark skies status in the world.
The Brecon Beacons National Park and Snowdonia National Parks are both official International Dark Sky Reserves. The remote lakeland of Elan Valley in Mid Wales is an International Dark Sky Park, meaning that its entire 45,000 acres are protected against light pollution, making it a sanctuary for wildlife and nature (and stargazers).
In Wales, the universe puts on awesome displays of stars, comets, meteors and galaxies – including our own home galaxy, the Milky Way. You can watch the International Space Station and trains of satellites – there are 8,000 of them orbiting the Earth – voyage through the night.
And you’ll realise that you’re not alone in watching this unfolding spectacle. Nature’s sights and sounds will surround you. More species are nocturnal than diurnal (that’s day-dwelling, like us humans), so you’ll be sharing the view with owls, bats, nightjars, glow-worms, badgers, foxes, polecats, deer…
Star-gazing is good for the soul, too. It doesn’t half make you forget the small stuff, and think about the big stuff. Space, time, infinity.
You can star-gaze in Wales all year round, but the darker nights of autumn and winter are best. Ideally, you’ll time it with one of our regular meteor showers, where dust from comets and celestial debris turns into shooting stars. During the biggest ones – the Perseids (August), Geminids (November) and Quadrantids (January) - you can see up to 150 meteors every hour. That’s a lot of wishes.
So, where should you go?
If you’re starting out on your stargazing journey, you can check out astrophotographer Alyn Wallace’s top 5 places, or take a look at our guide to the best dark sky spots in Wales. If you want to take some pics, astrophotographer Alyn Wallace has put together some tips to get you started.
So, pick a moonless night, take a camping chair, a woolly hat, and a flask of something warming. The secrets of the universe are yours.