Situated at the edge of Europe, Ireland really is the last haven of pristine dark skies and the beauty of stargazing is that you don’t need much, if any, equipment. It can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness so be patient! Here’s a check list to help you get ready so switch off the lights, look up and enjoy the celestial skies above.
Having the right clothes when you head outside is always important, particularly when you are on the west coast of Ireland where the weather is changeable, and we might get all four seasons in a single day. At night, this is even more pronounced.
We recommend the following items:
- Gloves (and hand warmers if you get particularly cold)
- Plenty of layers (avoiding cotton when possible) – base layers, fleece, gilet/vest, outer layer
- Waterproof jacket
- A small bag to carry the above items
- Waterproof boots or sturdy shoes
- Good wool socks (avoid cotton!)
- A flask/thermos with a hot drink (not a clothing item, but will help keep you warm!)
The whole idea of stargazing involves going out at night in particularly dark places. While this is great for stargazing, it can also be a bit dangerous, especially if you aren’t a regular stargazer or used to the terrain.
Having the following items can help reduce the risks. Also keep in mind that stargazing with a guide will not only be safer, but it will also make your experience better!
- A pair of binoculars – but never point them towards the sun!
- A red torch light – it helps your ‘night vision’ and avoid any white lights
- Stargazing is best on your back – so bring a mat or blanket to lie on.
- A Star chart or Planisphere – www.skymaps.com (even if travelling with a guide!)
It’s always good to check the weather before you go out – particularly in Ireland where the weather can change so rapidly. When planning a trip to Ireland, it’s always a good idea to get a sense of seasonal weather (as well as hours of sunlight)! For example, stargazing in summer in Ireland is quite difficult as there are only a few hours of night sky (sometimes as little as for midnight to 4 am!). Autumn and winter are much easier for enjoying sunrises and sunsets (which are often at their most beautiful in winter), stargazing and enjoying moonscapes. Winter days can start as early as 4 pm (16h00), with sunrises as late as 8 am.
Extract from our guest blog originally published 3rd March 2020 https://www.wildernessireland.com/blog/ireland-dark-skies/