In the dark winter season, 80 miles off the south coast of England, Sark’s skies are darker than carbon, and has been declared the first ‘dark sky island’ in the world. Absent of cars, neon strip lights or street lamps, this Channel Island was awarded International Dark Sky Island Status in 2011. That means it’s officially one of the best places on the planet to watch the stars, with the rugged ridge of La Coupee hailed as the best viewing site for Scorpius, Sagittarius, Lyra and Cygnus.
Star gazing here on a cloud-free night is spectacular with countless stars across a vast expanse, on which meteors speed from one horizon to the other. In the northern hemisphere, the darkest skies are visible between September and April, and for two hours after sunset.
Sark’s 600-strong community ensure as little light as possible spills upwards into the sky, so there is nothing to blot out starlight. The result is a magical stargazing experience that highlights just how incredible the Earth, the sky and its constellations and the cosmos are. The residents even use the ever-present flicker of the Milky Way to site themselves.
Taking a walk at night on Sark can be incredibly gratifying. It's easy to find places without any artificial light. Head out with sensible footwear and a torch for finding your way and prepare to be awestruck at the starry sights you will encounter.
Visitors that arrive on the smallest of the four main islands without their own stargazing kit are warmly welcomed to borrow telescopes from the Sark Astronomy Society. Alternatively, the observatory will provide a warm shelter as well as a screen showing views from the telescope, perfect for whiling away a winter night of star gazing. Located opposite the church, it can accommodate up to 8 people at a time.