‘Star Attraction’ To Open in October
A new £1.2M star-gazing experience under some of the darkest skies in the world will be revealed next month when OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory opens (17 October).
The new visitor centre and observatory, with its cedar cladding and sedum green roof, is nestled in Davagh Forest in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains, where a lack of light pollution allows unrivalled views of the night sky and makes the site ideal for star-gazing.
OM will welcome its first visitors from Saturday 17 October, with a new moon in the sky offering a perfect weekend for star-gazing.
Bringing space exploration right down to earth, the OM exhibition uses touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes and interpretative panels to help visitors explore our solar system, while donning a virtual reality headset means visitors can witness the birth of a star and the mesmerising Aurora Borealis, day or night.
The centrepiece of the building is the first floor observatory with a retractable roof where the 14 inch LX600 Meade telescope will be in action during special star-gazing events and VIP tours.
As well as the guided exhibition tour, the night-time experience on offer includes the OM Odyssey, an outdoor film screening which either speeds the audience from urban lights into the vastness of the universe or swoops them through an ancient forest, under the fast-flowing Broughderg River before they soar into the sky.
OM is thought to be the first new visitor attraction to open on the island of Ireland during the pandemic:
“To be opening a major new visitor attraction during a pandemic is an achievement in itself and where better than in the midst of a vast outdoor space at Davagh Forest which is part of our newly designated Dark Sky Park, one of only 78 across the entire globe and only the second in Ireland”, said Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, Chair of the Council.
“This is a unique development in a truly special place, with an ancient landscape, amazing archaeology, including Beaghmore Stone Circles which is considered by some to have been the first observatory on this land, all under the darkest of skies with unrivalled views of the galaxy.
“This opening is a milestone in our strategy to build a strong, sustainable tourism offering in the Sperrins, which showcases the region’s stunning landscapes and its history and heritage.
“It represents a substantial investment and there is more to come as we work towards new solar and archaeological walking trails, as well as enhanced mountain biking routes”.
OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory opens to the public on Saturday 17 October 2020. To find out more and to book, visit www.omdarksky.com.