Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Dark Sky Observatory built in Dalmellington in Galloway Forest Park

Astronomer and telescopeFor the opening of the observatory see Dark Sky Observatory opens in Galloway Forest Park

It was only in June 2009 that we noted: Galloway Forest Park wins Dark Sky award.

Now, less than two years later, work has started on building a Dark Sky Observatory in the park, aided by £94,000 in funding from the Scottish Government.

The new facility will be used by schools, colleges and universities.

The new observatory, costing almost £700,000 in total, aims to build on the park’s status and will offer visitors a chance to observe the Northern Lights, the Milky Way, planets, comets and shooting stars.

Mr Ewing said: “Scotland has made an immense contribution to shaping the modern world through science and research excellence, and this new observatory builds on our reputation as a hotbed of innovation and ideas.

“The creation of a state-of-the-art, first of its kind in Britain, observatory will attract stargazers and astronomers from near and far.

“The Galloway Forest Park area enjoys some of the darkest skies in the world and this new facility will showcase the area’s stunning natural scenery and resources to attract new visitors and investment to Ayrshire.”

Observatory manager Cath Seeds said it had taken two years to “generate the enthusiasm and raise funds for this project”.

She paid tribute to the wide range of organisations funding the scheme.

“Often, the science can feel overwhelming, so we want the observatory to break down these barriers by bringing together astronomy, nocturnal natural history and arts and crafts inspired by the night sky,” she said.

“We also want to play a key role in the future development of this area.

“Great things are occurring and great talent is abundant.

“Our role is to improve science in our community, whether by inspiring the next generation of scientists or providing the spark needed by an inventor to produce something truly remarkable.”

Via BBC News – Dark Sky Observatory work under way in Dalmellington

The deputy leader of East Ayrshire council has described the observatory as a ‘huge asset’ to the area, and which will attract local visitors, tourists, and international stargazers.

See also Dark Sky Scotland.

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park logoThere is one tiny observation (just a detail, not a criticism) which is possible worthy of note. While the location of the observatory is in an area that clearly does not suffer the chronic light pollution of more central areas:


It does not actually lie in either the DSP (dark sky park), or the buffer zone defined around it.

See the detailed Forestry Commission’s zone map here: Light Zone diagram for Dumfries and Galloway.

The Commission has produced a list of potential viewing sites, and an accompanying map:

The numbers on the map correspond to these locations:

  1. Galloway Red Deer range car park
  2. Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre car park
  3. Glentrool Visitor Centre
  4. Bruce’s stone car parks
  5. Caldons woodlands
  6. Kirroughtree Visitor Centre
  7. Loch Braden car park
  8. Loch Doon West end car park
  9. Talnotry
  10. Raiders road west end car park

map of potential viewing sites (PDF 1.2Mb)


Looking at some of the comments made after this later article, it seems that the matter of light pollution is not taken seriously by many – probably not a surprise, given the response the same folk probably give ‘ordinary’ pollution…

Light pollution ‘saturates’ UK’s night skies

Reminds me of many of my neighbours, who are slowly having up-lighters built into their gardens and driveways as some sort of fashion statement that started a few years ago. Built into the ground, they point straight into the sky. Others are going for down-lighters to wash the walls of their lovely domiciles, and have thirty or more of these little halogen gems burning away as soon as it gets dark – and it’s not to light their visitors’ way, as they don’t go off until dawn, so they are purely for show.

One of the local bookies has a back door accessed over a lawn – it has about a hundred small vertical uplighters (installed only a few weeks ago) highlighting the path from the street to the door when it is dark.


January 29, 2012 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. this is the most frustrating thing. If Scotland don’t want any visitors to their new dark sky park, they’re doing an excellent job as no matter how i try on the web, i cant find much information about it, such as its location perhaps!!!! I’m not the most expert on the www, but i’ve always found what i need. Maybe they don’t want any visitors!!


    Comment by Rob | April 1, 2012

  2. I have spent 20 mins trying to find a web presence, I visit Dumfries regularly and am a keen astronomer often staying in the DSP and this would be an added attraction but other than driving there and knocking on the door it seems impossible to find opening times, costs facilities etc. Pity to fall at the last hurdle by not taking advantage of the publicity.


    Comment by Steve Tredwell | October 5, 2012

  3. Steve (and Rob).

    You cannot find details because I fear you have not read the article properly!

    The observatory was only ANNOUNCED back in January, together with funding to begin its construction.

    In the second line, the article above clearly states “work has started on building a Dark Sky Observatory in the park” – that should have given you a clue.

    It was only opened today (October 5, 2012) by Scotland’s First Minster: Alex Salmond officially opens Dark Sky Observatory

    However, it will not open to the public for some time, until the equipment has been fully installed and calibrated.

    There is therefore no web presence (other than the stories about its installation and opening, which you should have found within seconds, not 20 minutes) since there is no opportunity for the public to visit or access the observatory at this time.

    I found plenty of web references and articles within a few seconds with my first search merely using the facility’s title and location.

    I hope you can find the park, once they publish details 😉


    Comment by Apollo | October 5, 2012

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