Scots re-discover the stars

A project is underway to open Scots’ eyes to the night skies above them by searching for local Dark Sky Discovery sites as part of the build up to International Year of Astronomy 2009. Astronomers from the Dark Sky Scotland programme, based at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh are working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the John Muir Trust to help communities and outdoor learning providers find the best local spots for stargazing.

Every community in Scotland, even in the towns and cities, has a local open space that is free from the worst of local light pollution and is a good place to look up at the stars. Dave Chalton, Dark Sky project officer at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, said: “This is a chance for people to rediscover the night sky that is right there above their doorsteps. We could be the first country in the world to identify local Dark Sky Discovery sites in this way. From these places, you can get fantastic views of the stars, planets and the Moon. They are windows into our understanding of the universe.”

Rebecca Logsdon, East Scotland Manager for the John Muir Award commented: ”The John Muir Award helps people of all ages to connect with, enjoy and care for the natural world. The stars are a brilliant reminder of the vast universe waiting to be discovered in our skies at night.”

Jeremy Thompson of the Forestry Commission Scotland added: “"We're very excited about this project. At the moment our rangers are working with local communities to help make the whole project a great success which everyone can benefit from. We see Dark Skies as a great way to get local people who live in or near the national forest estate to get more involved and learn about what's in and above our national forests."

The project is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland. Catriona Morrison, Communities and Greenspace Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage said: "We are pleased to be a partner, supporting the Royal Observatory with a grant for this innovative project. It will help urban communities get out and enjoy the open green spaces close to where they live, even if it is in the dark!."

You can follow the growing national network of Dark Sky Discovery sites at

In a complementary initiative, the International Year for Astronomy 2009 is looking to establish the UK’s first Dark Sky Parks. These would be in rural areas of the UK - such as National Parks and Forest Parks - which meet the criteria of the International Dark Sky Association for limiting light pollution.


Notes for editors:



Stargazing - Picture credit Duncan S Smith



Dave Chalton
Dark Sky Project Officer
Royal Observatory Edinburgh
0131 668 8343

Dan Hillier
Visitor Centre Manager
Royal Observatory Edinburgh
0131 668 8406
07821 800356

Steve Owens
International Year of Astronomy 2009
UK Co-ordinator
0141 420 5010 ext 299

Rebecca Logsdon
John Muir Award Regional Manager - East Scotland
John Muir Trust
01796 484972

Catriona Morrison
Communities and Greenspace Officer
Scottish Natural Heritage
0141 951 0871
07795 427246

Jeremy Thompson
Forestry Commission Scotland
01555 660 190

Other links:

1. UK Campaign for Dark Skies
2. International Dark Sky Association


Partners & Funders Logos

Dark Sky Scotland Logo
  Dark Sky Scotland


Forestry Commission Scotland
  Forrestry Commission Scotland


John Muir Trust Logo
  John Muir Trust





Scottish Natural Heritage Logo
  Scottish Natural Heritage


Scottish Government Logo
  Scottish Government



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