Look up and see a great show


The tiny island of Sark opened its first observatory earlier this week. Already designated by the Dark-Sky Association as the world’s first Dark Sky Island (and still only one of two islands in the world) the island has taken advantage of the exceptional blackness that its night skies offer to stargazers, itself the result of its isolated location in the English Channel and the complete lack of public street lighting (as well as cars).

Sark’s initiative highlights how much has been lost in the name of progress. Excessive street lighting and cars combine to create a tremendous amount of light pollution and so prevent us from looking up. And last month’s super moon lunar eclipse showed us just what we were missing. For those fortunate enough to see it (or brave enough to stay awake until the ‘wee small hours’) were rewarded with a spectacular sight. And  for those that missed it, unfortunately its a sight that won’t come around again in this generation.

For the disappointed sleepy heads amongst us, or those unable to travel to Sark, fear not. Other astronomical events are just around the corner. All of them are visible with the naked eye from just about anywhere in the UK. These are as follows.

Starting tomorrow (16th October) star gazers may be able to see an Orionid meteor shower where some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from the 16th to the 30th.

Next month (November 18th) sees a Leonid meteor shower, when again, some shooting stars are expected to be visible. According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘the maximum rate of visible meteors from a dark location could reach 20 per hour’.

In December there is a Geminid meteor shower, which is widely considered to be the best meteor shower of all. The maximum rate of meteors on show here is expected to be around 100 per hour.

And finally, on January 3, 2016, a Quadrantid meteor shower is due where the maximum rate of visible meteors is expected to be around 80 per hour.

Here at Explorer Travel Insurance we have tracked down a website that might help you to find the best location from where you can see these wonderful, natural (and free) sights. Check out the Dark Skies Discovery sites map which can be found on the Dark Skies website http://www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk/dark-sky-discovery-sites/map.html.

The alternative is to persuade your local authority to turn off  the street lights, but good luck with that.


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