The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory occupies a fantastic hilltop site on the edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. This publicly accessible educational observatory has some of the darkest skies in the UK and has two large telescopes through which to observe the night sky.
The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park was the first Dark Sky Park in the UK and Europe and was awarded ‘Gold Tier’ status by the International Dark-Sky Association.
The Observatory is also situated within the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, which has been recognised internationally as a world class environment for people and nature. The UNESCO designation recognises the fantastic array of landscapes, wildlife, cultural, heritage and learning opportunities that south-west Scotland offers for communities, businesses and visitors to experience and celebrate in a sustainable way. The SDSO is proud to be a supporter of the Biosphere.
The observatory features a 20” Corrected Dall Kirkham telescope in a 5 metre dome and a 14″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope for a more hands-on, open air observing experience.
The observatory also features a presentation room, a planetarium and an elevated observation deck from which to enjoy naked-eye viewing of the night sky.
The observatory is open to the public, amateur astronomers, groups, clubs, schools and universities with the aim of inspiring people of all ages and all backgrounds with the beauty and wonder of the universe.
Because of the nature of the site it is recommended that visits are pre-booked. Please look at the Bookings page for more information and the Events Calendar for upcoming events.
Visitors with impaired mobility or who use a wheelchair are requested to please contact the Observatory in advance of a booking or visit so that we can explain the limitations of the facility.
Please also note that the road to the observatory is rough, unfinished and steep in places; whilst it is passable with ordinary vehicles care must be taken. With this in mind it is best to contact us before making your way to the observatory if you have any queries.
All events go ahead even when its cloudy/rainy. If the roads are impassable due to snow or icy conditions then we may be forced to cancel a planned session; if this is the case we will offer you the opportunity to reschedule your booking to a different event.
We will contact you by the e-mail address and phone number you provided when you booked, so please make sure you check both voicemail and e-mail before you start your journey to the SDSO in case we’ve been in touch! We will also update the front page of our website, Facebook page and we will tweet to let you know if the event has had to be cancelled.
Some Rules For Visiting the Observatory:
- Dress for cold weather (we’re not kidding about this – even in summer!)
- No laser pointers
- Torches used at the observatory must have red filters and be dimmed (during observing sessions)
- Contact us / book before visiting
- All ticket sales / voucher purchases are non-refundable.
- If you wish to reschedule a confirmed booking you must provide a minimum of 7 days notice (in writing by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ).
- Rescheduling of confirmed bookings incurs a charge of £2.50 per ticket payable at the time of rescheduling.
Dark Sky Observatory Group Ltd – Environmental Policy
The Dark Sky Observatory Group Ltd recognises that it has a responsibility to the environment beyond legal and regulatory requirements. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and continually improving our environmental performance as an integral part of our business strategy and operating methods, with regular review points. We will encourage customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same.
The Observatory Manager is responsible for ensuring that the environmental policy is implemented. However, all Trustees, employees and volunteers have a responsibility in their area to ensure that the aims and objectives of the policy are met.
We endeavour to:
- Comply with and exceed all relevant regulatory requirements.
- Continually improve and monitor environmental performance.
- Continually improve and reduce environmental impacts.
- Incorporate environmental factors into business decisions.
- We will minimise the use of paper in the office.
- We will reduce packaging as much as possible.
- We will seek to buy recycled and recyclable paper products.
- We will reuse and recycle all paper where possible.
Energy and water
- We will seek to reduce the amount of energy used as much as possible.
- Lights and electrical equipment will be switched off when not in use.
- Heating will be adjusted with energy consumption in mind.
- The energy consumption and efficiency of new products will be taken into account when purchasing.
- We will evaluate if the need can be met in another way.
- We will evaluate if renting/sharing is an option before purchasing equipment.
- We will evaluate the environmental impact of any new products we intend to purchase.
- We will favour more environmentally friendly and efficient products wherever possible.
- We will reuse and recycle everything we are able to.
- We will reduce the need to travel, restricting to necessary trips only.
- We will promote the use of travel alternatives such as e-mail or video/phone conferencing.
Maintenance and Cleaning
- Cleaning materials used will be as environmentally friendly as possible.
- Materials used in office refurbishment will be as environmentally friendly as possible.
- We will only use licensed and appropriate organisations to dispose of waste.
Monitoring and Improvement
- We will comply with and exceed all relevant regulatory requirements.
- We will continually improve and monitor environmental performance.
- We will continually improve and reduce environmental impacts.
- We will incorporate environmental factors into business decisions.
- We will increase employee awareness through training.
- We will review this policy and any related business issues at our monthly management meetings.
- We will involve staff in the implementation of this policy, for greater commitment and improved performance.
- We will update this policy at least once annually in consultation with staff and other stakeholders where necessary.
- We will provide staff with relevant environmental training.
- We will work with suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors to improve their environmental performance.
- We will use local labour and materials where available to reduce CO2 and help the community.