Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve
Come stargazing in the Brecon Beacons. On a clear night in the Brecon Beacons, you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. It’s enough to make anyone starry eyed. Our Park has some of the highest quality dark skies in the whole of the UK, making it the perfect destination for stargazers.
10 Places to go Stargazing in the Brecon Beacons
- 1. Usk Reservoir SN 835285 N51.56.58 W03.41.55
- The car park area at Usk reservoir is a beautiful place to have a family picnic as well as an ideal place to enjoy outstanding dark skies. The large flat area allows set up of telescopes and the road access from Trecastle means it is easily accessible. This area enjoys a naked eye limiting magnitude of 6.4 and is protected from the light pollution of the South Wales valleys.
- 2. Crai Reservoir SN 886210 N51.54.52 W03.35.12
- This reservoir is not as accessible as Usk, but a short drive down an access lane allows the set up of telescopes to enjoy stargazing down to a limiting magnitude of 6.37. There are also laybys along the A4607 which provide ideal places to enjoy the beauty of the dark skies.
- 3. Llanthony Priory SO 288278 N51.56.41 W03.02.11
- Situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the National Park, the stunning ruined building in the guardianship of Cadw, is one of our most iconic sites and also enjoys pristine dark skies with a limiting magnitude of 6.35. Whilst the Priory is closed from 4pm onwards the owners are happy for stargazers to use the carpark and enjoy the views into the Priory and upwards onto the mighty Hatterrall Hill. Please be aware that the owners live nearby and there is also a privately run hotel nearby so it is essential noise is kept to a minimum here and stargazers keep to the designated area.
- 4. Hay Bluff SO 239373 N 52.01.43 W03.06.34
- The road over Gospel Pass from Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye brings you to the car park on Hay Bluff, a hill overlooking the Wye valley with great views over Powys and Shropshire to the distant north-west. The skies have a limiting magnitude of 6.34. The town of Hay is the largest centre of second hand bookshops outside of London, making this a good place to look for astronomy titles.
- 5. National Park Visitor Centre (Mountain Centre) SN 978264 N51.56.02 W 03.28.40
- The visitor centre is signposted at the village of Libanus on the main A470 road and is very accessible both day and night. Enjoying skies with a limiting magnitude of 6.37, the centre is one of the best and most accessible areas to set up telescopes and is within an hour’s drive of every one of the South Wales valleys. The centre is located on a working common though so we ask to you to please respect local residents and park within the centre carpark and only use our grounds at night to minimise disturbance to others.
- 6. Pen Rhiw Ddu SN 730192 N51.51.13 W03.50.31
- The car park off the winding road between Llandeilo and Brynamman over the Black Mountain is a great location as there is good access from the Swansea Valley and plenty of room for telescopes. It also overlooks the darkness of Mid and West Wales with the skies here enjoying a limiting magnitude of 6.31.
- 7. Carreg Cennen SN 668193 N51.51.12. W03.56.02
- The wonderful castle at Carreg Cennen sitting on its huge limestone cliff offers a great day out with breathtaking views across the valley to the west and one of the darkest skies in the region at a limiting magnitude of 6.26. It is accessible from Llandeilo, Carmarthen and Ammanford and is within an hour’s drive of the South Wales valleys and the rural heartland of West Wales.
- 8. Craig-y-nos Country Park and Craig Y Nos Castle SN 840161 N51.50.16 W03.40.29
- Craig-y-Nos Castle is the former home of opera singer Adelina Patti, one of the greatest sopranos in history. The skies here have a limiting magnitude of 6.30 and are very accessible by road from Swansea and Brecon.
- 9. Sugar Loaf Mountain SO 268167 N51.50.30 W03.03.34
- The hill dominating the skyline from Abergavenny is accessible off the main A40 road. The limiting magnitude here is 6.10 and you enjoy a wide view over the south and west whilst avoiding much of the light pollution of the towns to the south.
- 10. Llangorse Lake SO 127270 N51.56.07 W03.16.13
- Very accessible from the South Wales valleys and the Midlands along the A40 road, Llangorse Lake has a profusion of places to set up telescopes. It shares the location with an outdoor pursuits centre, which has some stray light but with a limiting magnitude of 6.24 hopefully they make little intrusion into this beauty spot.
It takes around 20minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted, so wrap up warmly and relax and soon the beauty of the night sky will be revealed. Don’t expose your eys to man-made light as the dark adaption will be ruined. Use a red light torch if you need to read a star map.
When you go stargazing in the Brecon Beacons, let people know where you are going before you set off. Be aware of the weather forecasts and take a mobile phone, warm outdoor clothing, hot drinks, food and a couple of torches with fresh batteries. Visit Adventure Smart for more safety information.
You don’t need expensive equipment to stargaze. You may want a simple planisphere to get to know the constellations. There are many star map smartphone apps that help you learn what’s in the night sky. Some binoculars might be handy to scan the star fields. Or just use your eyes and take in the wonder of the Milky Way.
Where to stay?
By the Wye is located in Hay on Wye within the Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve and on a clear night you can relax on the deck of your Safari Tent and experience some of the finest dark skies in the world.