No need for a rocket to see the stars shine at beauty spot

Beacon Fell night sky - photo by Robert Ince

Beacon Fell night sky - photo by Robert Ince

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AS British astronaut Tim Peake flies through space in the International Space Station an astronomer says one of the best places to view the galaxy is actually right here on your doorstep.

Amateur astronomer and professional scientist Robert Ince, from Bamber Bridge, says on a clear night you can see the Rings of Saturn and 
Jupiter from the Forest of Bowland.

The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is famed for rolling hills and magnificent greenery but Robert believes the real beauty can be seen by telescope in the skies above.

He said: “You don’t have to go to Scotland or the North East to see the night sky at its best. The good thing about 
Lancashire is that away from the heavily populated areas where there is pollution you can see the milky way the skies are that clear - and sometimes that is only a 10 minute drive away.

“It isn’t just beautiful countryside but there is beauty above in the skies too.

“We have some good skies for star gazing round here 
especially in the forest of 
Bowland.”

Robert was the resident 
astronomer and manager of the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory and he is now working with the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Forestry Commission to develop astronomy tourism, provide astronomy outreach events and to increase light pollution awareness in the North of England.

Robert’s next event is Jupiter night at Slaidburn Village Hall on Wednesday, March 9 from 8pm-10.30pm.

A spokesperson for the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty said: “We now have four Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Bowland at Beacon Fell Country Park, Crook O’Lune Picnic Site, Slaidburn and Gisburn Forest Hub.”

Robert added: “I think the popularity of stargazing has definitely increased since Tim Peake went into space but there has also been a long standing interest recently because of the Professor Brian Cox effect.

“I’d urge anyone who has been inspired by either to come and see the skies at Bowland.”