Ireland's remote landscapes and areas of low population density mean the island has some of the darkest night skies in Europe.
The Emerald Isle is home to two Dark Sky Parks and a Dark Sky Reserve, all accredited by the International Dark Sky Association, a non-profit organization which aims to protect the nighttime environment and dark skies.
According to travel magazine and website Afar, now through winter is the best time for nighttime viewing in Ireland. Stargazers can catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor showers in mid-August and the Pleiades in November. By December, the sky is dark for up to 16 hours a day.
Here are the top places for stargazing on the Emerald Isle.
1. Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve
Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, which was accredited in 2014, is Ireland's first Dark Sky Reserve. It incorporates a 270-square-mile area of County Kerry, including the Ring of Kerry and part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Best places to view the dark sky here are at the 1,000-foot-high Coomanaspig Pass on the Skellig Ring walk near Portmagee, and at the old watchtower on Bray Head on Valentia Island, overlooking both the Skellig and Blasket islands.
In nearby Bonanae Heritage Park is a Bronze-Age stone circle thought to be the center of an ancient astronomical calendar. At sunrise and sunset on the summer solstice, the sun directly aligns with the 13 large stones in the circle.
For more information on Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, visit here.
2. Mayo Dark Sky Park
Mayo Dark Sky Park, nestled between the Nephin Mountain Range and the Atlantic coastline, extends over roughly 60 square miles of Wild Nephine National Park.
Ireland's first International Dark Sky Park, it was awarded International Dark Sky Park's rare Gold Tier status in May 2016, recognizing it as one of the best places in the world to view the night sky.
The park has three easy access signature Dark Sky viewing points, these are: Ballycroy Visitor Centre boardwalk, Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail boardwalk route, and the Brogan Carroll Bothy at the Letterkeen trailhead.
The Mayo Dark Sky Festival takes place every year in November, and the park runs events for International Dark Sky Week every April.
For more information on Mayo Dark Sky Park, visit here.
3. Om Dark Sky Park and Observatory
Om Dark Sky Park and Observatory, a 3,700-acre area located in Davagh Forest in the Sperrin Mountains, received accreditation in 2020.
The observatory is home to a 14 inch LX600 Meade telescope and the visitor center hosts daily tours of its interactive exhibition among other informative events.
The park is also home to the Beaghmore Stone Circles, with 7 stone circles, 10 rows of stones, and 12 cairns.
For a unique experience, stay overnight at Sperrinview Glamping. The glamping pods have large glass viewing windows enabling you gaze at the stars all night from your bed.
For more information on Om Dark Sky Park and Observatory, visit here.