Kerry`s Dark Sky
Pól Ó Conghaile 

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Southwest Kerry hosts Ireland’s first Dark Sky Reserve, and with visibility like this, we’re not surprised.

An amazing image was captured by photographer Madeleine Weber, in her backyard in Ballinskelligs. The Orion constellation, with the hunter’s belt and scabbard, can clearly be seen at the centre of the photo.

Southwest Kerry was named one of only three gold tier International Dark Sky Reserves on earth earlier this year, recognising it as one of the best places in the world to stargaze and observe the Milky Way.

The Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away, is also visible to the naked eye on clear nights, thanks to the lack of light pollution in the region.

The only other places to be given a similar status by the International Dark Sky Association are in New Zealand and Namibia.

Fittingly, scenes for the new Star Wars movie were shot nearby recently on Skellig Michael – itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I am sure many of you notice that the longer you are outside in the dark, staring at the sky, the more stars will appear,” Weber says on her Facebook page.

It gets more subtle by the minute…”

She shot the photo using a 30-second exposure and an aperture of 2.0. Weber has also edited several timelapses into the stunning video below.

Kerry's application for the dark-sky accreditation was supported by Failte Ireland and Kerry County Council to promote astro-tourism in the south-west region.

The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve has been designated Ireland’s FIRST International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association (www.darksky.org), one of only 3 GOLD TIER Reserves on the planet, and the only GOLD TIER Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere. 

This means that on clear nights the sky in this South West region of Ireland is simply stunning, with many astronomical sights seen through the naked eye as can be seen say in the Grand Canyon or the desert plains of Africa. 

Constellations can be viewed here with many more stars than are shown on the usual sky maps. The beautiful band of the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, Star Clusters and Nebula’s are just some of the naked eye wonders to see without the aid of any astronomical equipment or filters. 

The night-time view of our astonishingly beautiful Universe is something my family and I will carry with us all our lives –  certainly the greatest souvenir we take away with us. J. MacManus-London

If you have ever visited the Kerry region of Ireland you will know of its astounding natural beauty. Anyone who has motored on the famous Ring-of Kerry route will attest to its wonder and ease of travel. 

If however, you have never stayed in the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, you will have missed out on a wonder only revealed after the sun truly sets and an orchestra of stars come out to re-vitalise your senses. We have our own Astronomy Group so don’t forget to look them up or go to their website here

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