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South Downs Dark Sky Discovery Sites

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 Country Park – the highest observing point in Hampshire with 360 degree views. Admire the Milky Way in all its glittering glory on a clear night.
  • Buriton village – with widespread unobstructed views overhead from its recreation park, Buriton is a recent addition to the Dark Sky Discovery sites. The village community has taken its approval very seriously with several Dark Sky themed events occurring through the year.
  • Harting Down – an excellent site for astro-landscape photography, with good views overhead and to the north from the car park. More panoramic views are also possible by travelling a few hundred metres from the car park along the South Downs Way.
  • Iping Common – explore the Open Access land on Iping, Stedham and Barlavington commons, excellent locations for astro-landscape photography.
  • Bignor Hill – Situated on the Slindon Estate and in the core of the Dark Skies Reserve, on clear nights you can see the Milky Way. Walk along the South Downs Way to explore wider sky views.
  • 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.



"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."