2020 will bring a whole new star-gazing experience to Mid Ulster, when a Dark Sky Observatory and Visitor Centre opens at Davagh Forest, near Cookstown.
Davagh has one of the ‘darkest skies’ in Ireland, which means there is so little light pollution that there are crystal clear views of star constellations.
The new centre will give visitors a unique opportunity to experience the night sky as it is rarely viewed – and as it would have been seen centuries ago by our ancestors.
Combining the latest tech, from holographic installations to virtual reality headsets with colourful, accessible interpretation panels and hands-on activities, visitors to the centre will be able to explore our solar system from our sun and moon to our stars and the planets.
The centre piece of the space will be a star-gazing telescope, opening up the opportunities to view the night sky without light pollution and establishing Davagh as the only official ‘dark sky’ reserve here.
To be sited close to the ancient Beaghmore Stone Circles, at the foot of the Sperrin mountains and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the observatory is at the heart of a rich landscape of substantial archaeological and cultural significance and a history which spans millennia.
Being developed by the Council at a total investment of over £1M, the project has received funding of £500K from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Rural Tourism Scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
*The Dark Sky Observatory at Davagh Forest is due to open in 2020.
Davagh Dark Sky Observatory