Dark Sky Viewing Nights

Monday 22 January - Monday 18 March, 2024

Explore Lochwinnoch’s stunning Dark Skies

Take a closer look at Renfrewshire’s stunning night sky at a series of Dark Sky Viewing Nights. These will take place in January, February and March at Lochwinnoch’s Castle Semple and Muirshiel Visitor Centres.

Sessions will be led by John Pressly—Science Curator at One Ren’s Paisley Museum—and Countryside Rangers. This series of outdoor events will explore some of the most mesmerising wonders of the night sky through a brand new telescope that’s been funded thanks to Future Paisley.

Expect to see the Moon, Jupiter, far-away galaxies, constellations and even the International Space Station.

Please note: These events are currently fully booked. However, you can email cmrp.rangers@renfrewshire.gov.uk to be added to the waitlist if spaces become available. 



January’s event

January’s event will focus on the Moon. Just a few days away from full, it’ll hopefully be very easy to observe through the telescope if skies are clear. Additionally there will also be the opportunity to spot Jupiter just after twilight too.

In the event of clouds or very wet weather, John will deliver a talk about the Apollo Programme and recent missions to learn more about the Moon instead.

Please note that January’s event has been cancelled due to bad weather. If you were booked to attend, the Countryside Rangers will be in touch with you about rescheduling for Monday 29 January instead. Should any spaces become available for this date, the Rangers will contact those on the waiting list.


February’s event

There will be no moon out at February’s event, making the dark skies at Muirshiel the perfect place to see harder-to-spot objects. Think the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Pleiades Star Cluster.

The telescope will be trained on Jupiter, as it’ll be most visible in the first half of the month.

Should clouds or very wet weather spoil the fun, John will deliver a talk about Jupiter. Including the missions that have helped us learn more about the biggest planet in our solar system.

February’s event will take place at Muirshiel Visitor Centre on Monday 12 February, 7.30pm to 9pm.


March’s event

With the clocks changing at the end of the month, there will still be a bit of twilight around when the March event kicks off. This is a great time to see the elusive planet Mercury. Only visible for a few weeks each year, Mercury sits low on the horizon, setting by 8pm, but is well worth a closer inspection via telescope.

After that, there will be a pass by of the International Space Station. Plus a First Quarter Moon and Jupiter to spot too.

Again, if it’s cloudy or very wet, John will deliver a talk about our solar system’s smallest planet, Mercury. Plus you’ll have an opportunity to ask any stargazing questions you might have.

March’s event will take place at Castle Semple Visitor Centre on Monday 18 March, 7.30pm to 9pm.


All you need to know

Tickets for Dark Sky Viewing Nights cost £5 per person, and you can book by emailing cmrp.rangers@renfrewshire.gov.uk. Or drop into Castle Semple Visitor Centre between 10am and 4pm Monday to Sunday to buy your ticket.

We recommend this event is best suited to ages 8 and up – stargazing often requires a lot of patience!

Dark Sky Viewing Nights will take place at Castle Semple and Muirshiel Visitor Centres. All events will be outdoors, unless the weather is particularly poor, in which case the talk will move indoors at each centre.

Please come dressed for the weather. Wrap up warm and wear sturdy footwear.

And finally, countryside Rangers will have binoculars available for you to use, but you’re welcome to bring your own along too.

Love the great outdoors? Keep exploring!