Dark Sky Discovery site

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  • Dark Sky Discovery site

Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre is an accredited Dark Sky Discovery site, part of the UK Dark Sky Discovery Partnership, and the first site accredited in North-West England. This is a network of national, local astronomy and environmental organisations which aims to:

  • Engage people from diverse backgrounds with the night sky;
  • Encourage positive attitudes towards science and technology;
  • Support the development of dark sky places, awareness and tourism;
  • Develop a national network of dark sky communicators;
  • Create long-lasting organisational partnerships in this area.

For details of other Dark Sky Discovery sites and star-gazing venues see Gostargazing.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has approved Low Gillerthwaite as a Dark Sky Discovery Site and the development of the team has been supported by STFC Grants and training.

Dark Sky Discovery - 2019 

We have 2 events planned in 2019 - March 9th and September 28th.  See the programme for the March 9th event here

Both events are on Saturdays, and are free and open to all.
The events last from 4:00 to 7:30 pm and stargazing will be extended beyond 7:30 if the skies are clear.

There will be talks for adults and children and activities for children plus telescopes to view the planets and stars (weather permitting), so please bring the whole family. As usual we will be providing soup and parkin for all visitors. If it is really cold then there is always the lounge with a real fire so you can get warmed up again.

There is no charge for the event but any donations to cover the cost are welcome.

If you intend to come please let the warden know so that we have an idea of numbers to cater for - please ring our Warden Ellen, on 01946-861229 or via email to warden@lgfc.org.uk.

You can also download our Astronomical Calendar showing what to look out for at LGFC during 2019.

The Dark Sky Discovery England funders are:-


Following our initial Dark Sky Discovery programme of events, we will stage more activities over the winter months. Dark Sky discovery sites are seen as being the best locations from which to observe the natural beauty of our night sky, one of nature's principle wonders. There are very few of these around the country and Gillerthwaite is the accredited Dark Sky venue in Cumbria for North West England. Its lack of municipal lighting in a mountainous setting enables the most spectacular night sky sights in a light pollution free zone.

The Dark Sky project was inspired by the successful Dark Sky Scotland partnership which has been in operation since 2009 at Galloway Forest Park. The main funders of the Dark Sky Discovery project for England are Natural England's Access to Nature programme together with the STFC - The Science and Technology Facilities Council. 

Most of us live in a permanent sodium glare where starlight cannot compete with the terrestrial haze which isolates us from one of nature's principle wonders. It's estimated that seventy percent of us have never seen the Milky Way. Here at Low Gillerthwaite, we are endowed with the most spectacular night skies in England and weather permitting, we can see it as an endless, illuminated band of countless, twinkling stars across our night sky.

All this can help facilitate existing learning opportunities for young people in particular to appreciate the wonders of the universe and our place in it. It also benefits the local community, astronomical societies and many others including photographers, poets and dreamers through night sky observation.

See an article in The Ecologist about LGFC Dark Sky.


Visitors wishing to stay overnight in our self-catering, hostel accommodation will be welcome and charged at the standard rates. Please visit our bookings page and book ahead with the Warden. This will be helpful so as to give some idea of numbers in advance. Remember to bring a sleeping bag, provisions, stout footwear and please wrap up warm. If this is your first visit to LGFC, please read these additional notes.

For more up to date information keep your eye on the web page and visit the BBC Stargazing Live pages.

We look forward to seeing you.

Stargazing is best done outside full moon periods, so here are some future New Moon dates:-

2019 - Jan 6, Feb 4, Mar 6, Apr 5, May 4, Jun 3, Jul 2, Aug 1, Aug 30, Sept 28, Oct 28, Nov 26, Dec 26

2020 - Jan 24, Feb 23, Mar 24, Apr 23, May 22, Jun 21, Jul 20, Aug 19, Sep 17, Oct 16, Nov 15, Dec 14

These dates obtained from www.timeanddate.com    


  • Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre,
    Ennerdale, Cleator,
    Cumbria, CA23 3AX
  • Tel : 01946 861229
  • Email : warden@lgfc.org.uk
  • Grid Ref : NY139141
  • Latitude : 54.5148 (N)
  • Longitude : -3.3313 (W)

Click image to enlarge it

 View of Orion from LGFCOrion from LGFC

Example of a star umbrella

Louis & Felix from Wigton, Cumbria

The STFC Starlab in the barn

Starlab inside barn

Ennerdale Lake and Angler's Crag on a still, clear evening

Ennerdale evening