Davagh Forest Officially Accredited As International Dark Sky Park
Davagh Forest has become only the second place on the island of Ireland – and the first in the north - to be accredited as an ‘International Dark Sky Park’.
The forest, which is in the foothill of the Sperrin mountains outside Cookstown is renowned for a lack of light pollution which means the night sky is at its darkest and and at its best to really see the stars.
The announcement comes ahead of next month’s opening by Mid Ulster District Council of the new OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory at Davagh, where an exhibition will take visitors on a journey through our solar system, using binoculars, mini-telescopes and the naked eye to gaze upon our galaxy, with touch screens, virtual reality and a moon hologram among the latest technology to feature.
The observatory will also be home to a 14 inch LX600 Meade telescope, which will be in action during special star-gazing events and VIP tours.
Achieving the accreditation, follows years of careful monitoring of the night sky, in all seasons, all phases of the moon and all weather conditions.
Data is gathered from ‘Unihedron Sky Quality Meters’ which measure darkness and are installed at various points in Davagh Forest. They have shown magnitudes in excess of 21.75 magnitudes per square arc second (mpsa) – put simply, Davagh is about 30 to 40 times darker than major cities like Belfast or Dublin.
Announcing the news, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, said:
An amazing 80% of us live under ‘skyglow’, a sky which is illuminated mostly by artificial, polluting light.
At Davagh, a natural cauldron in an ancient landscape, the skies are at their darkest and you can experience unrivalled and wondrous views of the night sky which makes it perfect for star-gazing.
Our official accreditation couldn’t be more timely as we prepare to open OM and to showcase not just the amazing astronomy available in the Sperrins, but the ancient landscape and its mysteries, like Beaghmore Stone Circles.
Adam Dalton, Dark Sky Places Program Manager with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), said:
“I would like to formally congratulate the newest addition to IDA's Dark-Sky Places Program. The application was unanimously endorsed and the Council should be truly proud of the incredible effort put towards this application”.
Davagh is one of only 78 places around the globe to hold this accreditation.