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South Downs Dark Sky Discovery Sites

A number of locations across the South Downs National Park are designated Dark Sky Discovery sites. These locations are free from the worst effects of urban light pollution, offer good public access and great sightlines to explore the wonders of the night sky.

Each Dark Sky Discovery Site has been nominated by a local group or organisation and approved by the Dark Sky Discovery programme. These sites, offering stunning daytime views across the South Downs, are the best possible conditions to just turn up and view the grandeur of the stars on a clear night.

  • Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium is the largest standalone planetarium cinema in the UK and hands-on, interactive, science and technology centre. Offering a wide range of evening events, stargazers can enjoy wide views to the eastern skies.
  • Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve – descend into the valley or stay up top and take in the Milky Way while the glow from Southampton sits on the horizon.
  • Butser Hill, Queen Elizabeth County Park – the highest observing point in Hampshire with 360 degree views. Admire the Milky Way in all its glittering glory on a clear night.
  • Iping Common – explore the Open Access land on Iping, Stedham and Barlavington commons, excellent locations for astro-landscape photography.
  • Devils DykeJohn Constable described the panorama from Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world’. Watch out for the devil though! Legend has it that one night the devil dug this longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK to flood the many churches in the Weald.
  • Ditchling Beacon – the highest point in East Sussex with panoramic 360 degree views. Ditchling Beacon was once the site for a warning beacon. Visible for miles around, the Beacon would be one of a chain of fires ready to be lit in times of imminent invasion.
  • Birling Gap – a coastal view of big skies and the glittering heavens from the stunning Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.