The Isle of Man boasts one of the lowest levels of light pollution in Britain and with 26 official dark sky sites, heading out stargazing is the perfect night-time activity for the whole family. On a clear night Isle of Man residents can see some incredible astronomical sights, from the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way Galaxy and even on occasion the Northern Lights – all right on their doorstep.
Here Locate Isle of Man share our top seven family friendly dark sky spots – the most picturesque and secluded places to watch some crystal-clear constellations throughout the year.
1. Catch the Orion and the Milky Way at Port Soderick
Situated close to the Island’s capital, Douglas, Port Soderick’s upper car park overlooks the beautiful waters of the Irish Sea, while providing some breath-taking views of the stars rising in the East. From here you can see a range of popular astronomical sights such as the Orion, the Milky Way, and the sky’s brightest star, Sirius. In Winter, these easterly sightings are visible from early evening. With no light pollution or noise, Port Soderick is a gemstone for stargazing, delivering some well needed peace and quiet for residents after a busy day at work.
2. Search the horizon for hidden planets and shooting stars at Niarbyl
In the daylight, the secluded Niarbyl Bay offers enchanting views of the Southwest coastline towards the islet that is the Calf of Man. By night, cradled beneath steep cliffs, it provides an unsurpassed sky.
Encourage the little ones to scour the horizon for hidden planets, shooting stars and the Great Andromada Galaxy – or why not download a stargazing app to help you in your search and make the experience even more interactive for the family. The panoramic views over the Bay’s striking waters makes the stargazing experience shine that much brighter.
3. Enjoy a late-night adventure at Sulby Reservoir
This inland site at Tholt y Will is nestled in the rolling Northern hills, under the shadows of the Island’s only mountain, Snaefell. The site’s elevation provides spectacular stargazing against the dramatic backdrop of an undulating landscape and a serene reservoir. Sit under the stars and admire a gallery of starlit masterpieces. You can also use a handy on-site interpretation board to find out how the stars can guide you North too.
4. Head off the beaten track at Fort Island
Fort Island may be off the beaten track, but it is one of the Isle of Man’s most spectacular dark skies sites. Sat adjacent to Derbyhaven, the site promises clear heavens and astonishing surprises, like the Taurids Meteor Shower in the month of November. These dust grains will radiate the sky with flecks of silver light and put on a spectacular show for you and your family. The ancient round fortress that resides on the small Island, which is only a short walk from the road, is the perfect muse for any budding photographer looking to complement a backdrop of sparkling stars.
5. Stargaze at The Sound
At the most southerly tip of the Isle of Man is The Sound – one of the Island’s most iconic stargazing sites. There’s a huge carpark, and plenty of benches and grassy areas to get comfortable. Roll out a blanket, lie back, and bathe beneath a glorious sky that stretches the entire Southeast to Southwest section of the Isle of Man. If you’re lucky you may even spot the blue-green planet Uranus in autumn.
6. Enjoy uninterrupted views at Port Lewaigue
Tucked between the craggy outcrops of Maughold Head and the striking coastline of Ramsey Bay, this tiny beach offers exceptional and uninterrupted views over the Island’s Northerly horizon as well as the East and West. You can also use the onsite Interpretation Board to help your family spot constellations.
7. Discover the darkest dark sky site at Smeale beach
If you’ve access to a campervan, Smeale beach in the Northwest of the Isle of Man makes a great staycation for the family. Situated in the Ayres National Nature Reserve, the areas is one of the Island’s darkest sites, offering virtually no light pollution and providing sensational views of the stars. When conditions are right you might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.