Beachy Head Stargazing

There are two things that I particularly love about Sussex. The first is the South Downs and the second has to be the sky at night from various vantage points across the county. The night sky at this time of year just seems to add poignancy at an already evocative time, as well as a chance to reflect on the closing year. Personally, I’m known to take off with the dog at night but for those who don’t have the advantage and reassurance of a large hairy hound or the wanderlust to be exploring the Downs on your own at night, then hop on down to Beachy Head.

Beachy Head at night

Beachy Head is charismatic at any time but what a haunting and wonderful place to visit at night. This year, Eastbourne Astronomical Society and Eastbourne Borough Council’s Heritage Eastbourne have joined forces and are running various events (on Saturday 18 December (5-7 pm), Saturday 22 January (5-7 pm), Saturday 26 February (6-8 pm) and Saturday 12 March from (7-9 pm)) to help empower would-be stargazers and help them look at planets including Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Powerful telescopes will be located outside the Beachy Head Story – next to the Beachy Head Pub – and the events are suitable for children and adults. All events are free.

East Sussex Star Gazing

It is expected that during the December event stargazers should be able to see Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, and the Andromeda Galaxy, where light left it 2.5 million years ago as well as witness the moon rising. There will also be a chance to look at faint patches in the sky where stars are being born such as the Orion Nebula in The Milky Way and the Pleiades, a group of more than 800 stars located about 410 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

Sussex full moon

Information and drinks 

There will also be a short slide show by local amateur astronomer Peter Gill in the Beachy Head Story throughout the evening events to show people what these sightings look like through the world’s largest telescopes. This will not be technical and will be suitable for children. The Beachy Head Story exhibition and shop will stay open on all the event dates, and car parking at Beachy Head is free after 6pm. Stargazers should wrap up warm and refreshments will be available at the neighbouring Beachy Head Pub.

Beachy Head Eastbourne

Eastbourne Borough Council’s Lead Member for Tourism & Culture Councillor Margaret Bannister said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors to discover Beachy Head’s unique starry night sky.  The skies above Beachy Head are classed as a Dark Sky Reserve, which means the area has been recognised for low levels of light pollution and good public access. This also means there’s a great chance people will see many spectacles of the night sky including the Moon, planets, space satellites and shooting stars or indeed meteors. It is easy to do stargazing. Simply wrap up warm, go outside on a clear night and look up – wherever you are there will be something to see. Working with Eastbourne Astronomical Society, we hope it will be a breath-taking and memorable experience.

Due to inclement weather conditions, observing sessions will not take place in wet weather but slide shows will still go ahead. For further information visit www.HeritageEastbourne.com.

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