An International Dark Sky Park
A lack of light pollution at Davagh Forest means the night sky is at its darkest – and at its best to really see the stars.
Here you will experience unrivalled and wondrous views of the night sky, one of only 78 places around the globe with official International Dark Sky accreditation.
Dark Sky Accreditation
Achieving Dark Sky Park accreditation takes years of careful monitoring of the darkness of the night sky, in all seasons, all phases of the moon and all weather conditions. Data is gathered from ‘Unihedron Sky Quality Meters’ which measure darkness and are installed at various points in Davagh Forest. The meters have shown measurements in excess of 21.75 magnitudes per square arcsecond.
The International Dark-Sky Association works to protect the night skies for present and future generations. We can all play a part in helping to shield our skies from the negative impacts of light pollution.
What is a dark sky?
Most of us live under ‘sky-glow’, a sky which is illuminated by artificial light, known as light pollution. Not here.
OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory in Davagh Forest is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland. It is one of two Dark Sky Parks on the island of Ireland and is the 78th area in the world to be accredited as an International Dark Sky Park.
“An International Dark-Sky Park (IDSP) is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment, and that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, and/or cultural heritage resource, and/or for public enjoyment.”
International Dark Sky Association www.darksky.org
OM – the meaning of the name
OM (or Aum) is the sound of the universe. It is also connected to Ogham pronounced [ˈoːm] or [ˈoːəm] in Modern Irish.
Ogham is an ancient Irish alphabet, represented by a series of marks on stones and it is the earliest written source of the Irish Language dating back to the 4th Century AD – there is an Ogham stone located here at Davagh.
There is also significance in the shape of the letters in the word OM, with ‘O’ – a circle, symbolising the shape of stone circles at Beaghmore, the planets and stars in the sky above and the round shape of Davagh (the cauldron) in which OM is located.
‘M’ symbolises the shape in the landscape of the Sperrins from the undulations of the mountains to the treetops of the forest and even the shape of the standing stones we still see today.
Visiting Davagh Forest
You can visit Davagh Forest International Dark Sky Park at any time of the night to star gaze.
During the Summer season our OM building closes at 7pm, but visitors will still be able to access the forest and car park.
If you are planning to visit late in the evening or remain in the forest after dark, we recommend you stay close to the observatory building and car park as Davagh Forest can be difficult to navigate at night. Visitors can make use of the outdoor viewing platform with red ambient lighting for star gazing. Please note that in June/July it does not get dark until approx. 10:30pm.
Get in touch with our team at OM if you need any advice.