Ten places to go stargazing
We have some amazing and iconic places that you can experience the majesty of the night sky as well as our National Park.
Here’s our top three tips on how to make the most of your experience and help us too.
Make sure you wrap up warm - Even in the summer, after the sun goes down temperatures plummet. Layers of clothing work best rather than one big warm ‘all or nothing’ coat!
Keep your eyes in night vision mode. Use a red bike light or paint the torch lens with red nail varnish.
Be respectful – much of the land in the National Park is privately owned and, in some places, footpaths are close to people’s homes. Please do not congregate close to these and always make sure you have the landowners permission.
Below we share our own favourite top ten locations to enjoy the night sky
1. Usk Reservoir
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The car park area at Usk reservoir is a beautiful place to have a family picnic as well as an ideal place to enjoy outstanding dark skies. The large flat area allows set up of telescopes and the road access from Trecastle means it is easily accessible. This area enjoys a naked eye limiting magnitude of 6.4 and is protected from the light pollution of the South Wales valleys.
2. Crai Reservoir
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This reservoir is not as accessible as Usk, but a short drive down an access lane allows the set up of telescopes to enjoy stargazing down to a limiting magnitude of 6.37. There are also laybys along the A4607 which provide ideal places to enjoy the beauty of the dark skies.
3. Llanthony Priory
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Situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the National Park, the stunning ruined building in the guardianship of Cadw, is one of our most iconic sites and also enjoys pristine dark skies with a limiting magnitude of 6.35. Whilst the Priory is closed from 4pm onwards the owners are happy for stargazers to use the carpark and enjoy the views into the Priory and upwards onto the mighty Hatterrall Hill. Please be aware that the owners live nearby and there is also a privately run hotel nearby so it is essential noise is kept to a minimum here and stargazers keep to the designated area.
4. Hay Bluff
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The road over Gospel Pass from Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye brings you to the car park on Hay Bluff, a hill overlooking the Wye valley with great views over Powys and Shropshire to the distant north-west. The skies have a limiting magnitude of 6.34. The town of Hay is the largest centre of second hand bookshops outside of London, making this a good place to look for astronomy titles.
5. National Park Visitor Centre (Mountain Centre)
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The visitor centre is signposted at the village of Libanus on the main A470 road and is very accessible both day and night. Enjoying skies with a limiting magnitude of 6.37, the centre is one of the best and most accessible areas to set up telescopes and is within an hour’s drive of every one of the South Wales valleys. The centre is located on a working common though so we ask to you to please respect local residents and park within the centre carpark and only use our grounds at night to minimise disturbance to others.
6. Pen Rhiw Ddu
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The car park off the winding road between Llandeilo and Brynamman over the Black Mountain is a great location as there is good access from the Swansea Valley and plenty of room for telescopes. It also overlooks the darkness of Mid and West Wales with the skies here enjoying a limiting magnitude of 6.31.
7. Carreg Cennen
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The wonderful castle at Carreg Cennen sitting on its huge limestone cliff offers a great day out with breathtaking views across the valley to the west and one of the darkest skies in the region at a limiting magnitude of 6.26. It is accessible from Llandeilo, Carmarthen and Ammanford and is within an hour’s drive of the South Wales valleys and the rural heartland of West Wales.
8. Craig-y-nos Country Park and Craig Y Nos Castle
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Craig-y-Nos Castle is the former home of opera singer Adelina Patti, one of the greatest sopranos in history. The skies here have a limiting magnitude of 6.30 and are very accessible by road from Swansea and Brecon.
9. Sugar Loaf Mountain
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The hill dominating the skyline from Abergavenny is accessible off the main A40 road. The limiting magnitude here is 6.10 and you enjoy a wide view over the south and west whilst avoiding much of the light pollution of the towns to the south.
10. Llangorse Lake
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Very accessible from the South Wales valleys and the Midlands along the A40 road, Llangors Lake has a profusion of places to set up telescopes. It shares the location with an outdoor pursuits centre, which has some stray light but with a limiting magnitude of 6.24 hopefully they make little intrusion into this beauty spot.