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“Worthwhile trip”

Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory occupies a fantastic hilltop site on the edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. This publically accessible educational observatory has some of the darkest skies in the UK and 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 award a Gold-tier status by the International Dark-Sky Association. This new observatory includes 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.
Reviewed 28 May 2014

We came here after seeing a Groupon offer having never heard of it before. A ten pounds for two adult tickets it was good value. As everyone mentions there is a bit of a challenging road to find it but nowhere near as bad as we were expecting. The trick seems to be to note down directions from the video on the website before going. We found it all added to the experience. Clear night meant lots of stars to view in stunning skies. The chance to see the rings around satan through the enormous telescope was one not to be missed. Friendly staff and recommended.

3  Thank homeward2304
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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104 - 108 of 150 reviews

Reviewed 18 May 2014

We arrived at midnight when the group we were supposed to join had gone home. The astronomers very kindly stayed on for another hour to give us a personal tour. Sadly it was overcast, but we were shown some amazing photos taken a few days before.

2  Thank Paul W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 May 2014

Unfortunately it was overcast so we were not able to see any stars, but we were given a thorough tour by knowledgeable guides, despite turning up very late. The telescopes are capable of producing some incredible shots and I look forward to going back when the weather is more favourable. The track leading to the observatory is very rough so do allow a good 30 minutes to make it from the road to the observatory. However, it would be well worth a visit on a clear night.

1  Thank Tbonetalk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 May 2014

It was a great experience, but we nearly didn't make it...

We checked the website for directions, looked it up on Google maps, and used the GPS but we still ended up lost. There's one solution to this problem: signs!

We nearly gave up looking after half an hour, but came across the entrance in a last-ditch effort to find it. It's also difficult to find the way back out when it's dark.

Having said that, it was worth it!

Apart from seeing Saturn's rings, craters on the moon, a double star, and globular clusters, the passion and enthusiasm of the astronomer and volunteers really made the experience for us.

We will most definitely return, and next time we will know exactly how to get there!


Check the weather before visiting the observatory. We booked after checking what evening had a clear forecast, and thankfully the forecast was right!

Take screen shots of the YouTube video on their website which gives step-by-step pictorial directions. We did this and it was helpful once we found the actual entrance to the road up to the observatory.

Directions to road entrance:

It's hard to give directions to the observatory, but to get to the entrance road (which we couldn't find for ages) look for the Jet petrol station on the A713 road. The petrol station should be on your right-hand side. Follow the road past the Jet petrol station and keep driving until you come to the big brown sign that reads 'Galloway Forest Park'. It's from this point that the observatory's website gives directions.

4  Thank Arual D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 May 2014

Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the observatory despite being in the vicinity for over an hour.

The difficulty and terrain involved in locating the observatory is referred to within the website and would be beneficial if locating in daylight however in total darkness, the off road conditions and lack of sufficient signage on route make the observatory quite challenging to locate, in addition, the lack of response from the observatory despite repeated attempts for assistance was also disappointing.

We also encountered another lost and frustrated couple experiencing exactly the same issues as us, collectively; all six individuals agreed to abandon the search so this is clearly not an isolated problem.

In terms of the poor signage locating the observatory, I’d also point out that on the way back down, there was not one visible exit sign of any sort which resulted in us making a wrong turn, having to reverse back up a forestry road in darkness and then effectively guess our way back out.

The biggest frustration though was a lack of response from the observatory on both the night in question and also since, I have e-mailed on two separate occasions regarding our experience and haven’t had any response over two weeks.

Overall, not a great experience on the night however judging by other reviews, I’m sure it would have positive one had we been able to locate the observatory.

9  Thank GTM123456
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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