Peak is perfect for spotting the stars

professor brian cox
professor brian cox
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HEAVENS above - astronomers have named a Peak District beauty spot as one of the best stargazing spots in the whole country.

The much-loved Surprise View on the outskirts of Hathersage is ideal because it’s so dark - 15 times darker than Sheffield city centre just a few miles away.

That means it’s a perfect place to scan the skies for stars, planets and other wonders of the universe.

Surprise View is one of six new Dark Sky Discovery Sites which were revealed this week on BBC2’s Stargazing Live specials, featuring pin-up scientist Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O’Briain.

Light pollution in cities and towns is a huge handicap for any amateur astronomer hoping to enjoy the beauty of the night sky.

The Surprise has no such problems, putting it in a category also enjoyed by the wilds of Exmoor and Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

John Tanner, a research officer for the Peak District National Park Authority and keen astronomer, said: “Most people know Surprise View for its superb views of the Hope Valley and the surrounding landscape, but the site has more to offer.

“Because it’s away from street lights and the glow of nearby towns and cities, people are able to experience the panorama of the dark sky.

“On a clear night you can see the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy - 2.5 million light years away - the furthest-away feature in the universe that can be seen with the naked eye.”

A seasonal display panel has been installed at Surprise View which explains what can be seen in the night sky throughout the year.

John added: “There is an area at the rear of the car park which is ideal for people to set up telescopes, but you don’t have to have expensive equipment to enjoy the view. You can look up and see planets, constellations, meteor showers and satellites with the naked eye.”