Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) & the dark skies of Galloway Forest Park

IMG_2757edited_blogThe night skies over the rural cottage where we stayed. Credit: Will Gater

I’ve just spent the last week staying very near to Galloway Forest Park, along with my wife and a few of our friends. I’ve been meaning to visit the forest ever since it was declared the UK’s first International Dark Sky Park back in 2009. The night skies were truly incredible and we were lucky enough to have 4.5 clear nights out of seven. I’ve put together a series of photographs below that show the astronomical highlights of our trip, including several sightings of Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS). If you’d like to find out more about Galloway Forest Park’s dark skies check out this page.

KirroughtreesignThe Kirroughtree Visitor Centre is the site of a dark sky viewing area. Credit: Will Gater

M42_10032012_flatThe Orion & Running Man Nebulae, imaged from just outside the forest. Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_11032013_settingOur first glimpse of C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) on 11/03/13. Can you spot it? Credit: Will Gater

Orion Trees Galloway ForestOn Monday night we ventured into the forest to see the dark skies there. Credit: Will Gater

ZodiacalLight ClatteringshawsLoch_March2013The zodiacal light was clear to see from near Clatteringshaws Loch. Credit: Will Gater

Leo_Trees_GallowayForestThe trees in the forest appear to stretch toward the constellation of Leo. Credit: Will Gater

Orion et al ClatteringshawsLoch_March2013Orion, Jupiter & the Hyades and Pleiades over Clatteringshaws Loch. Credit: Will Gater

MilkyWay_Trees_GallowayForestThe Milky Way peeking through the trees was an unforgettable sight. Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_13032013_sunsetComet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) was much easier to spot on 13/03/13. Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_13032013_croppedMuch of the time watching the comet was spent waiting for cloud gaps. Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_13032013_setting_croppedComet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) over the hills of Galloway Forest Park. Credit: Will Gater

Earthshine_13032013The Earthshine-lit Moon, taken shortly after Comet PANSTARRS had set. Credit: Will Gater

Earthshine_13032013_wideClouds move past the Earthshine-lit Moon later on in the evening. Credit: Will Gater

LEDstreetlightA modern LED streetlight in the town of New Galloway. Credit: Will Gater

NewGallowayStreetlightingVery little light shines out the sides of the lights (great for astronomy). Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_15032013_croppedOn our last night (15/03/2013) we spotted C/2011 L4 again… Credit: Will Gater

CometPANSTARRS_15032013_setting…but it soon set behind the distant hills. Credit: Will Gater


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