05 Oct 2020
The International Dark-Sky Association has announced Davagh Forest as the first International Dark Sky Place in Northern Ireland.
The forest becomes only the third place on the island of Ireland to be accredited as an International Dark Sky Park, with only 85 places around the globe holding the distinction.
Davagh Forest, which is located close the famous Beaghmore Stone Circles in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains in County Tyrone, is renowned for its lack of light pollution, which means the night sky is at its darkest and best for stargazing.
The accreditation follows years of careful monitoring of the night sky, in all seasons, in all phases of the moon and in all weather conditions and comes ahead of the opening of the new OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory at Davagh.
This purpose-built stargazing facility, named after the sound of the universe and featuring state-of-the-art technology, provides exceptionally clear views of the night sky as it would have been seen in Ireland centuries ago.
With a new moon in the sky offering a perfect weekend for stargazing, OM will welcome its first visitors from Saturday 17 October with an exhibition taking visitors on a journey through the solar system.
Bringing space exploration right down to earth, the OM exhibition uses touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes and interpretative panels to help fans of the night sky explore the solar system. There’s also the chance to don a virtual reality headset to witness the birth of a star and the mesmerising Aurora Borealis.
The centrepiece of the building is the first-floor observatory, which has a retractable roof where a 14-inch LX600 Meade telescope will be in action during special stargazing events and VIP tours.
As well as the guided exhibition tour, the night-time experience 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.
The OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory is located at the heart of a rich landscape of substantial archaeological and cultural significance and a history which spans millennia.
The prehistoric Beaghmore Stone Circles, a complex of early Bronze Age megalithic features, stone circles and cairns, speak to ancient mysteries, rituals and a Celtic people who understood their astronomy. Combining a tour of the ancient stones with spectacular stargazing in Northern Ireland’s first Dark Sky Place will make for an unforgettable experience.
Beaghamore Stone Circles, County Tyrone
OM Outdoor Screening Facility
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