The night sky is one of the joys of a winter in Wales. While much of the UK and Europe is blighted by light pollution, in Wales there are hundreds of places to experience our natural wonders under dark skies. Some of them are obvious; Wales now has a network of International Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks that astronomers have singled out as world-beating places to go stargazing. However, there are hundreds of other places, from small and accessible Dark Sky Discovery Sites to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As the nights draw in and the skies get dark for longer, these dark sky hideouts in Wales come alive.
Llanelian Community Centre, Llanelian
This village south of Colwyn Bay is a regular meeting place for the North Wales Astronomy Society, which holds regular observing nights at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday in each month.
The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB is an excellent location for stargazing, with some of the darkest skies found above Caer Drewyn, an iron age fort sat on top of a hill overlooking the stunning valley of the Afon Dyfrdwy.
Capel Garmon, Betws-y-Coed
Penmon Point, Isle of Anglesey
Usk Reservoir, Brecon Beacons
Cwmdu, Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons
Craig Goch Dam, Powys
Popular with stargazers and astro-photographers, the Elan Valley's Craig Goch Dam near Rhayader has easy parking. Stargaze from the dam itself or take the path on the east side of the reservoir to find stunning views of the night sky.
Claerwen, Elan Valley, Powys
Llangoed Hall Hotel, Powys
South towards Brecon along the A470, Llangoed Hall country house hotel close to the River Wye has stunning skies. The owners will switch off the outdoor lights if asked, and even have a house telescope and binoculars on hand.
Broadhaven South Beach, Pembrokeshire
Penbryn Beach, Ceredigion
Port Eynon, Gower Peninsula
Although nearby Rhossili Bay is more famous, there are few darker spots in Wales than tiny Port Eynon in the Gower Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Carreglwyd Caravan and Camping Site here is perfect for meteor, and the Milky Way in summer.
It might be where most people in Wales live, but escaping the light pollution of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea is easier than you might think. You could head towards the southernly part of the Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve, or give one of the many options in Monmouthshire or the Vale of Glamorgan a try.
Nash Point Car Park, Llantwit Major
This headland on the Monknash Coast of the Vale of Glamorgan can get very windy, but its night skies will blow you away. Parking at Nash Point is easy, as is a pre- or post- stargazing pint at The Horseshoe Inn or The Plough & Harrow.