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Where to find the best stargazing spots in London

Gather with astronomy-lovers and find the best stargazing spots in London with our celestial guide to the city

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London may be one of the most light-polluted spots on the planet, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can’t enjoy a city stargazing session. There are plenty of astronomical societies in the capital flying in the face of the strong city glow and proving that you can see planets, star clusters, galaxies in Zone 1 and beyond. 

Travel out to the fringes of the city, where you'll find small-scale astronomy society meetings teaching those new to nebula how to set up telescopes and spot stars or small observatory where you can survey the night sky. Stay in central London where you can tour the night sky with the help of an astronomer or sip on wine farmed in conjunction with the lunar cycle before peeping through a Dobsonian telescope. Or, why not have your very own stargazing session in some of the darkest areas of the city. To infinity and beyond! 

Be aware that some events may be subject to change if it is raining or cloudy, so do ring ahead in advance to confirm. 

Recommended: 101 things to do in London

The best stargazing spots in London

© Brian Thompson
Things to do

Stargazing with Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society

icon-location-pin Kent

New to novas and nebulas? No worries. Team up with local astronomy group Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society who put on regular events introducing amateur sky-searchers to the world of stargazing. The gang dish out tips and give informal talks about the constellations at a variety of events at different London locations throughout the year, including public stargazing events - where if the clouds keep away you’ll be able to treat your eyes to a survey of the sky through a host of different telescopes, guest lectures and workshops.

Keep an eye on their website for a full programme of their latest events. 

Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

‘The Sky Tonight’ Live

icon-location-pin Greenwich

Get starstruck with a 360° tour of the night sky at the Peter Harrison Planetarium, where a state-of-the-art digital laser projector shines the heavens on the inside of the roof like an astronomical Imax. All you have to do is lie back and gasp as an astronomer points out which stars are spinning above your head. Glimpse constellations, planets and moons, and fly out to the edge of the visible universe. We’ll forgive you if you take a selfie straddling the Prime Meridian line.

Weekdays 4.15pm, weekends 11.45am, 2pm and 4.15pm. £8.

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Things to do, Parks and gardens

Blackheath Observing

icon-location-pin Blackheath

Starmen and gals can get their celestial kicks on Blackheath Common, where the Flamsteed Astronomy Society set out their collection of telescopes once a month for some serious stargazing. As long as the night remains crisp and clear, they’ll be proving that light pollution can be beaten by pointing out Mars, before focusing on the sparkling constellation of Orion and the Milky Way’s very special Orion Nebula. We reckon Bowie would approve.

Monthly depending on weather – check ahead that session is still on. Free.

© Croydon Astronomical Society
Attractions

Kenley Observatory

icon-location-pin Borough of Croydon

It may not be as famous (or as old) as its Greenwich counterpart, but this little observatory in south London is still a stellar spot to go starry-eyed over belts and dippers. Every Saturday (in good weather) the site is opened to the public, so Londoners can have a mosey around its domes and 14-inch telescope while getting a look at all the astral razzle-dazzle. The observatory is kept cold and dark to facilitate sparkler-spotting, so wrap up warm and bring a torch.

Every Sat in good weather. Free entry, check details for the session in advance.

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© Dianne Aleja Chua/ Flickr
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Stargazing with Walton Astronomy Group

icon-location-pin Surrey

Don’t know your azimuth adjustment knob from your counterweight thumbscrew? The Walton Astronomy Group are on the case. Newbie astronomers can learn how to use a telescope and get a good look at the night sky on the green in Esher’s West End village where the astronomy set hold their regular monthly meetings.  They'll show you how to get your scope it up and running and if you’re lucky enough to pick a clear night, they’ll happily show you all the sparking sights that can be seen, including the Orion Nebula M42, the Pleiades, aka the Seven Sisters (not the tube stop), and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Meetings usually take place on a Thursday around New Moon, but check their website for confirmed dates. 

© Baker Street Irregular Astronomers
Things to do, Event spaces

Regent’s Park Hub

icon-location-pin Regent’s Park

Another group of city astronomers sticking two fingers up at the bright city lights are The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers. The cosmic club meet monthly at The Hub café in Regent’s Park – which doesn’t look too far off a Martian spaceship itself – to prove that if you have the right tools and expertise you can still see stars within the city limits. On clear nights, the group have managed to spot every planet in the solar system and spied glimmers as far away as the Whirlpool Galaxy in deep space. Whether you have stargazing experience or not, everyone is invited to the meet-ups to have a peer through a telescope or two and catch some constellations.

Visit www.bakerstreetastro.org for details of monthly meetings. Free.

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Attractions, Parks and gardens

Morden Hall Park

icon-location-pin Morden

Light pollution is the nemesis of all stargazing Londoners, but at 125 acres, the huge meadow at Morden Hall Park is big enough to escape the glow of the city. During the day you’ll find handsome avenues of trees and winding waterways in the ancient hay meadow, but come nightfall the grassy patch frames an expanse of inky, velvet blackness, one of the closest things to a legit Dark Sky site you’ll find in the capital. Pick a clear, cloudless winter night, close to the new moon – it’s the best time to track twinklers – and have your very own stargazing sesh. Who’d have thought a short stint on the Northern line would take you out of this world?

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