Some of the darkest skies in England are found in the North Pennines. Much of the area is remote, wild countryside with little development and the views of the night sky are second to none.
During the winter months (the best time for stargazing) the constellation of Orion can be seen in the sky from almost everywhere in the AONB. Clear views of the Milky Way can also be seen with the naked eye from more remote locations in the area.
Most of the UK's population live in densely populated and light polluted urban areas. They see a handful of stars through an orange glow. In the Durham Dales and North Pennines AONB your eyes can feast on up to 2,000 at any one time; the furthest object you can see with your naked eye is the Andromeda Galaxy – a vast island of stars very similar to our own Milky Way.
The Milky Way cannot be seen from built up areas. In fact, 80% of us have never seen it. But in the Durham Dales and North Pennines AONB, you can see this amazing object which is 2.5million light years away in all its glory, as well as meteor showers. These 'shooting stars' are grains of dust from the tails of comets burning up when they enter the Earth's atmosphere.
There are currently 12 Dark Sky Discovery Sites across Durham
1. Balderhead Reservoir
2. Bowlees Visitor Centre
3. Burnhope Reservoir
4. Cow Green Reservoir
5. Derwent Reservoir - Millshields
6. Grassholme Reservoir
7. Hamsterley Forest
8. Hury Reservoir
9. Parkhead Station
10. Pow Hill Country Park
11. Selset Reservoir
12. Tan Hill Inn
More information on Dark Sky Discovery Sites can be found at www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk