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Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park could be a major hot spot for stargazers later this week as one of Britain’s biggest meteor showers is due to hit the skies.
The Perseids meteor shower reaches its peak on the evening of Thursday 12th and the following morning, when over 60 meteors an hour are expected to fill the darkest skies found in the region.
The night-time skies over Galloway Forest are some of the darkest to be found in Britain and this, combined with low levels of light pollution, helped the area receive the much coveted Dark Sky Park award.
Keith Muir, head of recreation and tourism at Forestry Commission Scotland for Galloway said:
“Galloway forest Park is a major draw of tourists to the region and the Dark Sky Park status has firmly put the area on the world’s map as a first class destination for stargazers.
“We are all keeping our fingers crossed that we get clear skies at the time of the meteor shower as we may witness a really spectacular show.
“The best time to see everything will be on the Thursday evening and Friday morning but there may well be an increase in astronomical activity a few days either side. Observing to the north east towards the constellation of Perseus will give the best views."
Since the initial award of Gold Tier status as a Dark Sky Park in November 2009, media coverage has been worldwide and Galloway Forest Park has firmly been put on the world map as a top destination for stargazers.
“I’ve had calls from all over the world asking for information on the Dark Sky Park,” Keith added. “The main reason we embarked on a journey to promote the forest park as a stargazers’ paradise was to attract more tourists to the area. This is turn should result in a boost for the local economy which can help demonstrate how important forestry is for the region and the south of Scotland.”
The Perseids come every year, beginning in late July and stretching into August. Stargazers can see colourful fireballs, occasional outbursts and if the skies are clear, long gracefully streaking meteors. Perseid meteors fly out of the constellation Perseus, hence their name.
For more information on Galloway Dark Sky Park, log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/darkskygalloway.
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. Media enquiries to Keith Muir, Galloway Forest District, 01671 402 420 or Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland.