UK Location of best number of clear nights and seeing

Forums General Discussion UK Location of best number of clear nights and seeing

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    Eric Watkins


    we will all be familiar with UK charts showing light pollution which in itself can be useful when considering a home re-location.

    However, is information of the number of clear nights and or seeing available in a similar fashion.  I am considering moving home from north Essex such information could be extremely useful.

    Is anybody aware of such information?



    Grant Privett

    The problem boils down to what do you image/draw/observe.

    If its planets then almost anywhere away from a town is good.

    If deep sky then choose the dark area on the Philips dark sky map. In addition, you need to start looking at cloud cover figures – I found some on line a year or so ago (do not recall where). I recall Norfolk way being good and having lower rainfall than most the country, but I’m not sure how it did for fog.

    We were surprised how much cloud the Welsh borders got when we lived there. Its within the cloud shadow of the Welsh Mountains. Beautiful place to live, but you can get long runs of no blue sky.

    Personally I would rather have a couple of really dark clear nights a month than four mediocre one.

    Eric Watkins

    Thanks Grant,

    Cloud coverage tables would be useful.  An area I had looked at is the South West cost peninsular of Pembrokeshire- Dale through to Tenby, but it’s surprising how much of an effect the lights of Pembroke power station and the gas terminals of Milford Haven light up the sky.  I was born there and can recall from early childhood a fair bit of rain, but there  are stretches that have their own micro climate.

    I have also been considering the south west.

    Until recently I had thought of Spain or Italy, but with the advent of Brexit, that’s a non-starter.

    I’ve not even had a mediocre night at my present location for a couple of months.


    Grant Privett

    Heres one that might help…

    Not cloud as such, but associated…

    Eric Watkins

    Thanks Grant,

    I’ve managed to find a met office site that has cloud date over 25Km square grid pattern.  I’ll register with the site and see what they have.


    Grant Privett

    Did you get any charts we could see?

    Howard Davies

    Hi Eric,

    Dont come to South/West Wales as clear skies here are a rarity.


    Grant Privett

    As i recall, the rainfall maps show Norfolk to be pretty dry and you’re a good way away from any big hills, so does anyone living out that way care to comment on the amount of fog and clear nights? 

    In Wiltshire, where I am, there do seem to be a few foggy days in the autumn and winter.

    Andrew Robertson

    I just typed a long reply, hit the wrong key by accident and lost it all! Can’t type it all out again – too slow! But basically I reckon East Anglia, in particular Suffolk and Norfolk has the best of it. I live 12 miles West of Lowestoft. Near RSPB Minismere is good.


    Denis Buczynski

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot wrong with the Tarbatness Peninsula in NE Scotland where I moved to 7 years ago. Plenty of observing opportunities and good views of Aurora too. Long way from anywhere else though, and a maybe a big cold for those southern folk who are used to warmer climes. But for observing I cannot complain.

    Denis Buczynski

    M C Butcher


    I have little new to add to the above comments, other than to confirm that with the prevailing westerly winds the west of the UK seems to have cloudier skies than the east. Certainly here in the Inner Hebrides we rarely have clear skies and the number of nights each winter which are suitable for observing can be counted on 2 hands (or maybe only one). Clear skies are not our only problem but winds also will affect your observing opportunities. An observatory isn’t necessarily the answer to the problem as winds of over storm force (which we get every winter) will cause structural damage or destruction to anything in its path. From all the reports I read of the observations by other astronomers it would seem that east is best, that is not to say that in the west we do not get some marvelous nights observing, we do, but I they do not seem to be that often. I hope this helps.

    Martin Butcher

    Jimmy Fraser

    Anyway, you’re going to Scotland.
    The old country, hey, Macintyre?
    Yes, sir!
    Virgo is well up this time of year.
    I’m talking about the sky, Macintyre.
    The constellation of Virgo
    is very prominent in the sky now, in Scotland.
    I want you to keep an eye on Virgo for me.
    Will you do that?
    Oh, sure.
    This is Virgo. Find the Great Bear,
    the Big Dipper, and you can’t miss.
    I’m expecting something special from there. I want reports.
    – Reports, sir?
    – Anything unusual in Virgo.
    It might be a new star
    or even a shooting star.
    I want reports.
    Anything out of the ordinary,
    you telephone me, night or day.
    This is my private number.
    You’ll be travelling six hours east…you’ll be ahead.
    Think of that.
    Do you know what I’m talking about?
    I have a general…
    You’ll know when you see it.  And you’ll telephone me, OK?
    You do know what a comet is, don’t you?
    I would if I saw one.
    And you’d phone me?
    Yes, sir.
    Good man. You got the picture.
    The northern sky is a beautiful thing, Macintosh.
    You’re going to have a wonderful trip.
    Thank you, sir.

    (Local Hero – Burt Lancaster & Peter Riegert…1983)

    Robin Leadbeater

    What a great film. It is a long walk to the beach from the pub though.

    Jimmy Fraser

    Yes, a wonderful film…with a perfect soundtrack for cloudy nights.

    Jimmy Fraser

    Long walk to the beach…ah yes, the two filming locations. They had the best of both worlds.

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