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The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve: One Of The Best Places In Europe To Stargaze

The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve: One Of The Best Places In Europe To Stargaze

A visit to the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve is arguably one of the best things to do in Kerry.

The Kerry Dark Sky Reserve is one of only three Gold Tier Reserves IN THE WORLD and it’s the ONLY Gold Tier Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere.

This means that on a clear night the sky in this corner of County Kerry is scattered with astronomical sights that you can gander at with the naked eye.

Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know if you fancy visiting the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve in 2021.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve

A visit to the Dark Sky Reserve in Kerry requires a little bit of planning, in order to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of seeing the stars at their best.

Below, you’ll find some info on where the Reserve is located and when to plan your visit. Later in the guide you’ll find out more about the Reserve and where to stay.

1. Location

You’ll find the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve on the Iveragh Peninsula, where it covers an area of around 700 square km that includes Caherdaniel, Dromid, Waterville, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Kells/Foilmore, Portmagee, Cahersiveen and Valentia Island.

2. What all the fuss is about

The big draw of the Reserve is that, when the skies are clear, you’ll be able to soak up astronomical sights with the naked eye. You can kick back without any equipment and be treated to a show that’ll knock the breath from your lungs.

3. Why these areas are great for star-gazing

The reason that the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve is phenenomal for star gazing is due to the lack of light pollution in the area. It’s because of this that you can enjoy the stars without needed special equipment.

4. Planning your visit

A visit to the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve requires either luck or careful planning, as you’ll need clear skies to see the stars are their best. You’ll find more on this in a moment.

What to expect from a visit to the Dark Sky Reserve in Kerry

kerry dark sky reserve

Photo by Tom Archer via Tourism Ireland

If you plan on visiting the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve in 2021, you’re in for a treat (especially after the 14 months we’ve all just had…).

What you’ll see on a clear night

If you arrive at the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve when the conditions are spot-on, you’ll be treated to a scene that’ll etch itself upon your mind.

Clear skies treat visitors to views of constellations with many more stars than those that are shown on the usual sky maps.

There’s also the gorgeous band of the mighty Milky Way, the spectacular Andromeda Galaxy along with star Clusters and Nebula’s.

The best time to visit the Dark Sky Reserve in Kerry

According to the lads at Dark Sky Reserve Kerry, if you’re planning a visit, make sure to consider the position of the Moon.

The Moon’s cycle is 28 days, so each month has only 7 dark nights with no moonlight to interfere with your view of the heavens above.

If possible, try and angle your visit around when there are meteor showrs (info on how to know when they may fall here).

Dark Sky Reserve Kerry: Where to stay

geokaun mountain and cliffs

Photo by mikemike10/shutterstock

Where you stay to experience the Dark Sky Reserve in Kerry will depend on the type of transport you have.

If you’re driving, you can be pretty flexible and stay in Caherdaniel, Dromid, Waterville, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Kells/Foilmore, Portmagee, Cahersiveen or on Valentia Island.

If you’re not driving, I’d recommend Ballinskelligs or Waterville. If it was me, I’d stay on Valentia Island, as there’s plenty of things to do there during the day as well as at night.

FAQs about the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to stay when visiting the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve to where it actually is.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Where is the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve?

The Kerry Dark Sky Reserve encompasses the areas of Caherdaniel, Dromid, Waterville, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Kells/Foilmore, Portmagee, Cahersiveen or on Valentia Island.

What can you see at the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve?

In the right conditions, you can see constellations with many more stars than those that are shown on some sky maps along with the mighty Milky Way, the spectacular Andromeda Galaxy along with star Clusters and Nebula’s.

What is the best time to visit?

If you scroll back up to the section on the best time to visit, you’ll find why clear skies and the moon’s cycle are both important considerations for when you plan your trip here.

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Elaine O'Doherty

Sunday 25th of July 2021

hi there thanks a mil for the information above, im travelling with my husband and 8 year old daughter on the 9-13 Aug, we are staying in ballingskellig. Im just wondering what fun things there is to do down that area, boat trips etc...

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