Top 5 Stargazing Hotspots in Europe

Make a wish! The best stargazing hotspots in Europe have been unveiled…

A new study from Icelandair has revealed the best summer stargazing spots in Europe. Iceland’s flagship airline considered each location’s brightness, artificial light, Bortle Scale ranking (a nine-level numeric scale that measures the night sky’s brightness) and elevation. 

1. Riaño Mountain Reservoir, Spain

With an index score of 76/100, this beautiful Spanish reservoir is free from light pollution. Elevated at sea level, it has the lowest levels of both brightness (0.172mcd/m2) and artificial brightness (0.691 μcd/m2). Its Bortle Class ranking is one, slotting it under the category of “Excellent Dark Skies”. Stargazers could be in within a chance of seeing the zodiacal band and galaxy M33. 

    2. Dungeagan, Ireland

    At second place is Dungeagan, with a stargazing score of 74/100. This small village in Kerry, Ireland, has the next lowest levels of brightness (0.177 mcd/m2) and artificial brightness (5.58 μcdm2). It also ranks at two on the Bortle Scale, making the countryside location a “typical truly dark site”. 

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    3. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

    Next is Galloway Forest Park, with a stargazing score of 73/100. The park has a low brightness (0.186mcd/m2) and minimal artificial brightness (18 μcd/m2). With a Bortle Scale rating of two, it is another “typical truly dark site”. The Milky Way will be “highly structured” to the naked eye and look like “veined marble” through binoculars. 

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    4. Ballycroy National Park, Ireland

    Heading back to Ireland, this national park comes in at fourth place with a stargazing score of 70/100. Another “typical truly dark site” with a Bortle Scale rating of two, this location is 90 meters above sea level. It is protected with ecologically dark-sky friendly lighting to maximise stargazing opportunities and preserve the sensitive environment. 

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    5. Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

    At fifth place is Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. With a stargazing score of 67/100, lucky clients may get the opportunity to witness the incredible Northern Lights in this “rural sky” site. Rated three on the Bortle Scale, visitors can view the Milky Way’s four globular clusters, M4, M5, M15 and M22. Being 1,037 meters above sea level offers a crisper view of the night sky.

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    Top Ten

    Stevns Klint in Denmark was next with a stargazing score of 67/100, followed by Sark, Channel Islands in England (65/100), and Lake Mývatn in Iceland (62/100). Elan Valley Estate in Wales came in at 61/100, while Winklmoosalm in Germany finished at 60/100.