The following locations are particularly good for stargazing in and around mayo Dark Sky Park:
CLAGGAN MOUNTAIN COASTAL TRAIL (between Mulranny and Ballycroy)
The site has excellent parking and viewing facilities with the option to walk a 2km trail along a stunning coastal bay boardwalk route.
Here you can observe the night sky from your car or walk to a more secluded spot overlooking Bellacragher Bay.
ROBERT LLOYD PRAEGER CENTRE (15km north of Newport)
At the edge of Wild Nephin Wilderness, this is our darkest and most remote site accessible by car. There is a stone bothy open 24 hours for shelter, if required. This is an excellent viewing point for all users and is the starting point for various forest trails and looped walks.
BURRISHOOLE ABBEY (less than 3km outside of Newport, off Mulranny Road)
This historic 15th century abbey (or more correctly 'friary') is a great option for family friendly viewing, being close to town and to the Great Western Greenway - many stargazers walk to the site from Newport along the greenway - not recommended if you are carrying a telescope! There is plenty of parking and viewing conditions are excellent on a cloudless night.
BALLYCROY NATIONAL PARK VISITOR CENTRE (Ballycroy)
Indoor and outdoor seated areas, toilet facilities and extensive car parking. Here you can take the “Tóchar Daithi Bán” (a 2km looped walk) to the elevated plateau of Cleary’s Hill for a panoramic view of the night.
RED LIGHT TORCHES ARE BEST!
Remember, it takes at least 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted and this is important for viewing faint objects (like galaxies and nebulae). You lose your night vision instantly if someone shines a white light - our eyes are much less sensitive to red light, so we always recommend red light torches. Most smart phones have red light settings - check yours out beforehand to familiarise yourself - or check our handy tip below.
TOP TIP - If you are using a standard torch, try covering it with a
The bottom line is:
Please use your common sense and best endeavours to minimise white light (particularly full headlights) without jeopardising your own or anybody else's safety.
Dress warmly, bring an extra layer and consider that you may also need to bring insect repellent.
We are fortunate indeed to have the darkest skies in Europe on our doorstep - but our Atlantic weather means that they are not always as cloud-free as we might like! Keep an eye on the weather forecast and stay in touch for the latest news.
A good app for accurate weather forecast for observers is at:
(this link is for Mayo)
Check out the Mayo Dark Sky Park and Newport Astronomy Club's websites for some more helpful tips on stargazing...