Stargazing is something for the bucket list and, if you have never done it before, you will be amazed by the sheer beauty of the night sky. In the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, here is our guide to the celestial highlights of 2019, so that you can plan your stargazing to coincide with the most exciting events.
Book a cabin at Forest of Dean, Thorpe Forest, Keldy, or Cropton, which all have cabins in less wooded areas. Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre too, offer open views across the lochs. All our locations have a night-time darkness you will never experience in a city or town.
Did you know?
• Every full moon has a name, relating to the farming year. We have given you the British names here but sometimes you may hear the American names.
• A new moon (when all you can see is a crescent) is best for stargazing because it gives out less light and makes it easier to see everything else.
• The Aurora Borealis, or Northern lights, is entering a quieter phase in 2019. There is an outside chance of seeing them from Strathyre or Ardgartan Argyll, but we can’t make any promises.
• There are three supermoons in 2019 - when the full moon appears larger than usual because it is closer to earth.
Of course, there’s one factor that has a large bearing on what you can see – the weather. Specifically, clouds. Plan your stargazing around a Forest Holidays break and, if it’s cloudy, rather than standing in the cold, you will be able to simply relax in your hot tub and hope for a break in the clouds.
January stargazing highlights
• 3/4 January: Quadrantids meteor shower – up to 40 shooting stars per hour, with a crescent moon making them more visible.
• 6 January: New moon. This is also the best time this year to see Venus, in the early morning before sunrise.
• 20/21 January: Full moon, called the Wolf Moon. This is also a supermoon.
• 21 January: Total lunar eclipse, watch it between about 4.00am and 6.00am. The moon looks as if it turns red, and is known as a Blood Moon.
February stargazing highlights
• 4 February: New moon - the best time for stargazing.
• 19/20 February: Full moon, called the Lenten Moon. This is also a supermoon.
• 15 February - 3 March: Don’t miss the Dark Skies Festival in North Yorkshire. Stay at Cropton or Keldy.
March stargazing highlights
• 6 March: New moon – the best time for stargazing
• 20/21 March: Full moon, called the Egg Moon. This is also a supermoon.
April stargazing highlights
• 5 April: New moon - the best time for stargazing.
• 19/20 April: Full moon, called the Milk Moon.
• 22/23 April: Lyrids meteor shower peak. The moon will be quite bright, so this could hamper visibility.
May stargazing highlights
• 4 May: New Moon – the best time for stargazing.
• 6/7 May: Eta Aquariids meteor shower. Up to 30 shooting stars per hour, with a crescent moon to improve visibility.
• 18/19 May: Full moon, called the Flower Moon. This is a blue moon – which occurs when there are four full moons in a season rather than three and the third is a blue moon. It’s a rare occurrence which gives rise to the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’.
June stargazing highlights
• 3 June: New moon - the best time for stargazing.
• 10 June: The best time to see Jupiter, as it is closest to earth and illuminated by the sun.
• 17/18 June: Full moon, called the Hay Moon.
• 23 June: Best time to see Mercury. Look west after sunset.
July stargazing highlights
• 2 July: New moon – the best time for stargazing.
• 9 July: Best time to see Saturn.
• 16/17 July: Partial lunar eclipse. Visible from around 10.30pm.
• 16/17 July: Full moon, called the Grain Moon.
• 28/28 July: Delta Aquariids meteor shower. 20-30 shooting stars per hour could be visible, with the crescent moon helping visibility.
August stargazing highlights
• 1 August: New Moon – the best time for stargazing.
• 12/13 August: Perseid meteor shower, one of the best of the year. There is a nearly full moon, but there will still be plenty of shooting stars to see.
• 15 August: Full moon, called the Fruit Moon.
• 30 August: The second new moon of the month.
September stargazing highlights
• 9 September: Neptune is at its closed to Earth, visible as a tiny blue dot.
• 14 September: Full moon. As the closest full moon to the Autumn Equinox it’s called a Harvest Moon.
• 28 September: New moon – great for stargazing.
October stargazing highlights
• 8/9 October: Draconids meteor shower. This one’s not prolific but it has been known for some dramatic fireballs.
• 13 October: Full moon, also called the Hunter's Moon.
• 21 October: Orionids meteor shower. This is your best bet for shooting stars in October.
• 28 October: New moon – best time for stargazing.
November stargazing highlights
• 12 November: Full moon, called the Frost Moon.
• 18 November: Leonids meteor shower.
• 26 November: New moon – best time for stargazing.
December stargazing highlights
• 12 December: Full moon, called the Moon Before Yule.
• 14/15 December: Geminids meteor shower. Lots of shooting stars, although the moon is quite bright this year.
• 21/22 December: Ursids meteor shower. Only 5-10 shooting stars per hours but close to the new moon, increasing your chances of seeing a Christmas shooting star.
• 26 December: New moon, great for Yuletide stargazing.
Reach for the stars in 2019
Cross stargazing-in-style off your bucket list in 2019. All you need to do is pick the celestial event you want to see most, choose a cabin at one of our 10 UK locations, and wait for the show to begin. Find out more about the night sky in our Forestipedia guides, A Beginner’s Guide to Stargazing and Stargazing in the Forest.