Press Release: Abriachan Forest Trust Gains Dark Sky Discovery Status


23rd November 2017

Abriachan Forest Trust has been awarded ‘Milky Way class’ Dark Sky Discovery status.  The status was formally confirmed on the 20th November by Dan Hillier, head of public engagement at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, based on a joint nomination by Abriachan’s Learning Coordinator Suzann Barr and Inverness based Astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.  

The certification puts Abriachan on the map as an excellent location for stargazers, with good public access and world class dark skies.  The Milky Way status is only awarded to sites with very clear views of the Milky Way galaxy, which Abriachan offers due to its remote location and altitude.

Abriachan now joins a growing list of locations being promoted on, a portal that aims to help local communities preserve precious access to the night sky.  In parallel with the certification, regular stargazing events are planned to take place at Abriachan over the darker months.  Please visit or for details.

Suzann Barr, Learning Coordinator at Abriachan Forest Trust said:

“This is great news and will help us provide even more “round the clock” outdoor learning opportunities in our community’s forest. We look forward to sharing stars and stories with keen astronomers of all ages.”

Stephen Mackintosh, Astronomer and founder of Highland Astronomy Tours said:

“Abriachan is an amazing place for observing the night sky.  From here stargazers have access to crystal clear views of the Milky Way and thousands of naked eye stars.  I urge anyone with an interest in astronomy to see for themselves how alive the night sky appears under world class dark skies”  

Dan Hillier, who leads the Dark Sky Discovery Site from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre, said:

“It’s fantastic that this new site is part of such a vibrant community forest.  It will open up the night sky and the wonder of astronomy to a great many people.”

Enclosed Pictures 1 and 2 are Copyright Ken Armstrong – Castlehill Photography


Picture 1 – Stargazers at one of Abriachan’s Mesolithic Stargazing Events.  More public outreach events are planned for the site in the coming months.


Picture 2 – Stargazers recently witnessed a mesmerising display of northern lights at the site.


Picture 3 – Dark Sky Discovery logo

Press Notes

The UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership is a network of national and local astronomy and environmental organisations which aims to:

  • Engage people from diverse backgrounds with the night sky;
  • Encourage positive attitudes towards science and technology;
  • Support the development of dark sky places, awareness and tourism
  • Develop a national network of dark sky communicators;
  • Create long-lasting organisational partnerships in this area.

The national DSD partnership is led by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council. Its other members are:

  • Royal Astronomical Society
  • Federation of Astronomical Societies
  • Society for Popular Astronomy
  • British Association of Planetaria
  • Institute of Physics
  • Campaign for Dark Skies
  • UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres