Have you ever found yourself gazing up at the sky planning your next TentBoxing trip, then realising that a TentBox is in fact the perfect way to enjoy some quality stargazing?
If so, then you’d be perfectly correct. Whether you’re looking out from your Classic, Cargo, or directly through your Lite’s skylight, you can rest assured that wherever you decide to go stargazing, your TentBox will give you the best seat in town (or in this case, outside of town!).
Now that we know this, the next job is to start planning your dark sky adventure. In this blog, we’ve handpicked a few epic stargazing locations along with some top tips to picking the right time and place.
Step 1 - Pick the perfect time to stargaze
There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to stargazing. In order to have the best experience with the clearest, most incredible skies, you’ll want to follow the below guidelines…
1. Head out around the new moon! Natural moonlight can wash out the light from other stars, so you’ll want to make sure you head out when the moon is at its darkest – i.e. avoid full moons! The folks at ‘Go Stargazing’ have put together a very handy dark sky calendar, highlighting the darkest nights for every month.
2. Winter is best. The long days and short nights of the summer season offer limited opportunities for stargazing. Instead, you’ll want to head out when the nights are long and dark – anytime from late autumn to early spring is ideal. In the astronomy world, this is often referred to as the ‘observing season’.
3. Check the weather! This almost goes without saying, but you’ll want to ensure you have clear skies on the forecast. Clouds will unavoidably ruin your stargazing experience.
4. Pack the essentials. Set up a cosy camp in your TentBox! This should include a flask filled with your favourite hot drink, gloves and a beanie, and warm woolly socks. Naturally, we also recommend our down blanket for extra warmth and comfort.
5. Steer clear from light pollution. Avoid parking too close to any cities or other lit-up environments. On top of that, make sure to turn off all your headlights to ensure the best views possible.
6. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to take some pictures and share with them the TentBox community!
Now that you know when to go and how to maximise your stargazing experience, let’s take a look at some of the UK’s best stargazing spots.
Step 2 - Pick your stargazing spot
Did you know that the UK is home to six International Dark Sky Reserves? We have selected a few of the best ones, and found amazing campsites nearby to get the most out of your trip.
Yorkshire Dales is home to some of the darkest skies in the country, so much so that the area gained international recognition as an official Dark Sky Reserve in 2020. The autumn and winter months in particular are a great time to experience Yorkshire Dales’ dark skies.
Where to stay?
Pheasant Hill Caravan & Motorhome Park is an independent family-run site situated at the edge of Burneston, a small attractive village located near Bedale in the heart of Yorkshire. With a working farm and a few bee hives in the woods, visitors will be able to try their free-range eggs and honey available to purchase at the campsite. The campsite is conveniently located to the West of the A1, close to Bedale, Northallerton, Masham, Ripon and Thirsk with only a thirty minute drive from Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Bodmin Moor, which forms part of the Cornwall AONB, was awarded Dark Sky Landscape status by the International Dark Sky Association in July 2017 in recognition of its exceptional dark skies, commitment to reducing light pollution and promoting educational outreach. It’s the perfect spot if you want to combine stargazing and surfing or mountain biking into one epic adventure.
Where to stay?
Situated in the heart of one of Cornwall’s most picturesque regions, Ruthern Valley Holidays is the perfect place for quiet escapes in the countryside, open all year round and only a short hop from Bodmin Moor with just over a thirty minute drive.
Renowned for dark, starry skies and tranquillity, it’s the perfect spot for your next stargazing adventure. Stonehaugh is also a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, perfect for enjoying the night time spectacle over the Northumberland National Park. There are plenty of walking and cycling paths there too if you want to complement your nighttime activities with some daytime outdoors fun.
Where to stay?
Stonehaugh Campsite has one of the darkest skies in England, so it’s a fantastic place for stargazing.The campsite is close to the quiet village of Stonehaugh.
Your local viewpoint
If you’d rather enjoy some great stargazing without the hassle of going on a big trip away, then why not look out for a great little viewpoint near you? As long as you can travel far enough from light pollution, then you’ll be in for a treat.
Pro tip – there’s no light pollution over the sea! If you live near the coast, it’s worth looking for a remote spot away from the city where you can park and enjoy the nighttime views over the ocean.
For further guidance, why not check out Go Stargazing’s super handy interactive map. It showcases stargazing locations that are publicly accessible during nighttime.
Want to share your story?
If you want to share your tips, trips and plans with your TentBox, we’d love to hear from you. Message us on Instagram or Facebook (The TentBox Community) to feature.