Everybody’s starry eyed this winter

With a more noticeable nip in the air and darker evenings upon us this is a great time to wrap up warm, get outdoors and take a look at the wondrous night sky or visit one of Northern Ireland’s mythical sites that are steeped in a rich, mysterious past.

Dunluce Castle and the Northern Lights : Photo: Alistair Hamill (www.alistairhamillphotography.com).

In a few weeks time we will celebrate the winter solstice, an astronomical phenomenon which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year, and luckily in Northern Ireland there is a truly unique way to experience it.

If gazing up at the night sky is your thing then get all starry eyed and visit a site perfect for spotting planets, comets and shooting stars. There are great outdoor locations where the lack of light pollution turns the darkness into a scene bursting with life.

Pauline Gormley, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Destination PR Officer said: “Northern Ireland is lucky enough to have two sites listed on website, Dark Sky Discovery Sites, Carrick-a-Rede in Ballintoy and Oxford Island in Craigavon, which means they are amongst the best places in the whole of the UK to view the night sky and all its wonders.

The mesmerising Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis are visible from parts of Northern Ireland during the winter.

“Known as the ‘world’s greatest light show’, the Northern Lights can be seen from various locations including the mythical Beaghmore stone circles in the Sperrins and along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route,” continued Pauline.

“But if you’d rather stay indoors and entertain the kids then a visit to the stellar Armagh Planetarium at this time of year is a must. From December 1 – 23, the Mystery of the Christmas Star will be playing in the Dome helping to explain in a colourful and engaging way the magical story of the star that changed the course of history. As well as this, there are lots of other ‘out of this world’ shows taking place and kids will love learning about the cosmos at the fun interactive exhibition.

“And don’t forget that wherever you plan to enjoy the winter solstice or examine the night sky, close by there will be a unique collection of irresistible places to stay to get away from it all including quirky B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and hidden gem properties,” concluded Pauline.

For more information on exciting things to do in Northern Ireland this winter and cosy places for a short break log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com.