Most campers talk about sleeping beneath the stars. Whether in a tent, hammock, bivvy or awning of a camper or motorhome we all just love to get away and sleep out.
We often dream about sleeping beneath the stars but how many of us actually do it? Properly sleep out in the open beneath the stars? It is an amazing experience, whether you choose to spend the full night under the stars or stay up to the early hours to watch the spectacular night sky before retreating to your tent here are some tips to help you discover some Dark Sky Delights.
But when and where is the best when it comes to both sleeping beneath the stars in general and really getting to see a magnificent night sky in all it’s delight?
How to Really Sleep Beneath the Stars
There are steps you can take and places you can go to REALLY get to see the best of our night skies. The following will help you find the perfect place and times to ensure you get a wonderful night of stargazing.
To really experience sleeping beneath the stars it is probably best to sleep in the open with nothing overhead.
Please remember that if you are doing this, even in the hot summer weather it can still get pretty cold at night. So, make sure you use a barrier between the ground and your sleeping bag as the cold ground will draw the heat from your body. It is best to use a sleeping mat of some kind. Whether this be a SIM (self-inflating mat) or a foam mat it will help. I would also recommend something on top of this, like a blanket then your sleeping bag. Ensure the sleeping bag you are using is suitable for the temperature and season.
If you are planning to sleep on a hammock it is best to use an underquilt. In the UK I would recommend this during all seasons to ensure you stay warm and cosy.
It may also be advantageous to put a waterproof barrier over the top of bed to save things from getting damp during the night.
Light pollution is one thing that can really determine how many stars you are able to see with the naked eye. From a city you may only see about 100 stars when you look up to the night sky. But if you were to get away from all the bright lights you will easily see 1000’s of stars and even our own galaxy, The Milky Way which stretches across our night skies.
Light pollution comes in many forms. Street lights, lights from cars, office buildings, houses, shops and any other place that may have lights. The further away from this you can get the better you are really going to get to see the stars.
We are really lucky here in the UK that we have many places we are able to go were light pollution is minimal. These are called Dark Sky Areas or Parks. These are areas which are recognised by the International Dark Sky Association. They are so recognised as they have low light pollution and are easily accessible to people. I will list some Dark Sky Parks at the end of this post.
The weather will also determine how many stars you may be able to see. The best conditions are nice clear and dry evenings where there are no or few clouds. If you are heading out for the night with seeing a sky full of stars as your main objective it is best to keep an eye on the weather forecasts for that area.
Not Just Stars
Now if you get the right conditions for a night outside it may not be just the starts you are able to see. You may even get to see The Milky Way in all its glory too. The Milky Way is a Galaxy that contains earths solar system and it stretches across our night skies giving us the view of it from earth. This is a wonderful sight to see.
Another experience you might want to have is to go out and spend the night watching a meteor shower. Meteor showers are a delight to watch and the last time I was out watching one we were seeing about 15 shooting stars per minute, so it was quite impressive. Again, to see these meteor showers the conditions need to be fairly good. Most meteor showers that happen are discussed well before hand in the media, so you will know when they will be happening.
Depending on where you are and the time of year you may even get spoiled by being able to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as it is also known.
This light phenomenon is a delight to see and again is best viewed from Dark Sky Areas and during winter months. The best time to see them is between October and February. And although the north of Scotland is the best place to see them, they have also been seen as far down as Kent and Cornwall in the UK.
If the Northern Lights is something that you would love to see there are many apps now that you can download to your phone that will allow you to check when and where is best to see them and Lancaster University also has Aurora Watch, a very useful resource. They will also post on Twitter when activity is expected and where, so maybe worth a follow on there too.
Dark Sky Areas
Below are some links to Dark Sky areas. Many of these areas have camp sites on them and of course you can always wild camp in Scotland for free so long as you follow the Outdoor Access Code.
Have you seen any of the above on your camping trips? Why not share your stories or pics with the rest of us in comments or on our Social Media pages? We’d all love to see them.