Stargazing in Kerry is out of this world
SOUTH Kerry and its world-renowned Dark Sky Reserve have earned further global recognition from a prestigious international travel site that earmarked Kerry as one of the top 10 stargazing sites on earth.
The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve – a 700-square-kilometre zone covering a swathe of the Iveragh Peninsula and nearby Valentia – is one of just four reserves in the world to have earned “Gold-tier” status from the International Dark Sky Association, an honour bestowed upon the region in 2014 following sterling work spearheaded by Julie Ormonde.
The zone’s location, between the Atlantic and areas of considerable mountainous terrain, means it can avail of natural protection from light pollution. It has come to be recognized as something of an astronomer’s dream.
Now, travel website Rough Guide has tipped its hat to the extraordinary South Kerry location, naming it alongside other renowned stargazing destinations such as Tenerife, the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Death Valley in the USA, the Atacama Desert in Chile, Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand, and Pic du Midi in France.
In its piece, the website praised Kerry for offering sight of “star clusters, nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy”, in “the unpolluted skies above the lush Kerry peninsula”.
“Although its “Dark Sky Reserve” title is a 21st-century acquisition, inscriptions found on the region’s prehistoric monuments suggest that its inhabitants have been observing the planets for thousands of years,” it added. “Today, guides use laser beams and telescopes to further enhance visitors’ views of the heavens.”
The area has hosted a range of stargazing activities, including March’s Messier Marathon when 60 astronomers travel to South Kerry to try and spot all 110 planets discovered by Charles Messier.
Dessy Cronin of Coise Forbartha na Sceilge welcomed the news as further proof of the region’s unique potential.
The night skies on the Iveragh Peninsula have been listed in a top 10 of the world’s best for stargazing.