Saturday, August 22, 2020

Stars, stones, and dark sky in Ireland

Combining a tour of the famous BeaghmoreStones Circles with some spectacular stargazing in Northern Ireland’s only designated dark sky area can only mean one thing – an unforgettable experience.

Experience the mystery of ancient formations at night.
From the mysterious Bronze Age formations at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains, to the twinkling blanket of night sky above Davagh Forest, a Stars and Stones experience is a unique chance to embrace the giant spirit of Northern Ireland and connect with land and sky, past and present, long held facts and eternal mysteries.

The experience centres around the prehistoric Beaghmore Stone Circles and the brand new OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory in County Tyrone, both just a short walk from each other under some of the darkest skies on the island of Ireland.

What makes the stone monuments so important is their sheer scale. Featuring seven low stone circles of varying sizes, six of which are paired, there are also 12 cairns and 10 megalithic rows integrated into the overall layout. One of the circles is highly unusual – with 800 smaller stones placed upright inside its perimeter it has come to be known as the ‘Dragon’s Teeth Circle’.

While a local storyteller recounts enduring tales connected with the stones, you will be lured back thousands of years, when people marked time by the sun, stars and planets.

Feel the connections to ancient Ireland, ponder over timeless mysteries and discover myths and legends before heading to the OM observatory to learn about the night sky from an astronomer.  
Marvel at the stars in Ireland's only dark sky destination.
Featuring state-of-the-art tech, the purpose-built stargazing facility, named after the sound of the universe, offers exceptionally clear views of the night sky – just as it would have been seen in Ireland centuries ago.

From holographic installations and virtual reality headsets, to colourful, accessible interpretation panels and hands-on activities, night sky watchers will also be able to explore the solar system here at will.

As evening falls, the observatory’s sophisticated telescope is used to observe the heavens via a retractable roof, with images transmitted to large screens around the centre.

From sharp detail of the moon's surface to distant planets, stunning pictures of objects will be captured and the observatory will transform into a magical lightshow.

All the while, feel the links between the digital age, the Bronze Age and the natural surroundings, and enjoy a true immersion in this mystical Northern Irish region.

Finish your experience around a campfire under the dark sky, or head to one of the glass-roofed glamping pods situated only metres away from the intriguing stone circles and observatory. 
The dark sky observatory features a brilliant lightshow at night.
  Information and photos courtesy of Tourism Ireland, 

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