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UK's Top Spots for Garden Stargazing

stargazinggardens

You don’t have to go far to experience the wonders of the universe - sometimes just outside your back door is far enough to see incredible things in the sky… if you live in the right places that is.

We at The Paint Shed have recently conducted a study to discover the best places to live in the UK if you want to see the stars from your own garden. We ranked a number of boroughs, towns and cities against factors such as:

  • Number of private gardens per 10k people
  • Air pollution: PM2.5 levels
  • Artificial brightness: Millicandela per cm² (mcd/cm²)
  • Average annual rainfall: mm per year 
  • Average number of days of rain per year

Each figure was ranked against the other 182 locations’ figures to give a score between 1 and 181; the location with the lowest overall rating was deemed the best place to live to see the stars.

The top 25 locations to see the stars from your garden

Top locations for stargazing UK
Top locations for stargazing UK


Lincoln is the location with the BEST stargazing gardens in the UK

Lincoln is the best stargazing location

Out of all 182 locations, Lincoln in the East Midlands had the lowest overall score, making it the best location in the UK for astronomy enthusiasts to live. Despite not being the top location for any individual factor, it scored low across the board, with it coming in third for its artificial brightness level.

The second place was Wigan, in the North West, which boasts the least amount of rain of all locations as well as the least amount of days of rainfall too.

Third place was another East Midlands location, Boston. This market town, also in Lincolnshire, again did not come in at the top for any individual factor but the collective score was low enough to rank it third.

The bottom 25 locations to see the stars from your garden

Worst Stargazing Locations

Rank

Town/city/ borough

Region name

Garden rank

Air pollution rank

Annual rainfall rank

Days of rainfall rank

Artificial brightness rank

Total score

1

Leeds

Yorkshire and The Humber

121

104

169

161

170

725

2

Manchester

North West

154

89

146

163

172

724

3

Croydon

London

151

163

140

116

148

718

4

Wolverhampton

West Midlands

116

84

180

182

147

709

5

Bradford

Yorkshire and The Humber

147

75

169

161

152

704

6

Birmingham

West Midlands

155

140

119

124

164

702

7

Cardiff

Wales

142

95

167

157

139

700

8

Southwark

London

177

177

89

71

181

695

9

Hackney

London

178

178

89

71

176

692

10

Camden

London

180

168

89

71

175

683

11

Islington

London

169

175

89

71

178

682

12

Bromley

London

141

148

140

116

134

679

13

Westminster

London

163

174

89

71

180

677

14

Sutton

London

144

156

140

116

115

671

15

Waltham Forest

London

159

171

89

71

160

650

16

Walsall

West Midlands

128

131

119

124

144

646

17

Salford

North West

101

78

146

163

155

643

18

Haringey

London

143

167

89

71

162

632

19

Bristol, City of

South West

139

129

124

137

100

629

20

Oldham

North West

111

82

146

163

124

626

21

Glasgow City

Scotland

94

7

175

181

165

622

23

Liverpool

North West

64

113

126

148

163

614

22

Barnet

London

172

150

89

71

136

618

23

Southampton

South East

148

142

122

69

133

614

25

Bolton

North West

72

72

177

178

114

613



Leeds is the location with the WORST stargazing gardens in the UK

Leeds is the worst stargazing location

When it came to the places in the UK with the worst gardens to stargaze from, Yorkshire city Leeds took the top spot, scoring especially high for factors such as annual rainfall, days of rainfall and artificial brightness.

Another northern city took second place. Manchester scored high for artificial brightness, days of rainfall and number of private residences with gardens per 10k people, possibly due to the higher number of flats/apartments in this metropolitan area.

In third place, and perhaps not surprisingly,  was the London borough of Croydon; its air pollution rank was the 19th highest in the whole list, but not the highest amongst the London boroughs.

Best and worst London boroughs for stargazing

Stargazing in London

With a nickname like “the big smoke”, it is no surprise that stargazing isn’t an activity that many Londoners get to enjoy at home. However, not all boroughs are made equal and where you live in London can actually affect your chances of seeing the stars.

Rank

London borough

Garden rank

Air pollution rank

Annual rainfall rank

Days of rainfall rank

Artificial brightness rank

Total score

1

Kensington and Chelsea

4

176

34

27

174

415

2

Bexley

146

162

4

3

132

447

3

Havering

136

149

14

43

110

452

4

Hammersmith and Fulham

58

170

34

27

171

460

5

Lewisham

135

173

4

3

159

474

6

Richmond upon Thames

118

152

34

27

145

476

7

Redbridge

174

164

4

3

142

487

8

Barking and Dagenham

175

172

4

3

151

505

9

Greenwich

162

165

4

3

173

507

9

Kingston upon Thames

164

151

34

27

131

507

11

Merton

140

166

34

27

143

510

12

Lambeth

160

179

4

3

179

525

13

Hounslow

171

154

34

27

149

535

14

Ealing

158

158

34

27

161

538

15

Hillingdon

165

146

57

49

123

540

16

Tower Hamlets

181

180

4

3

177

545

17

City of London

182

181

4

3

182

552

18

Wandsworth

161

169

34

27

167

558

19

Brent

173

161

34

27

166

561

20

Newham

179

182

21

21

168

571

21

Harrow

170

147

71

59

141

588

22

Enfield

167

159

89

71

105

591

23

Barnet

172

150

89

71

136

618

24

Haringey

143

167

89

71

162

632

25

Waltham Forest

159

171

89

71

160

650

26

Sutton

144

156

140

116

115

671

27

Westminster

163

174

89

71

180

677

28

Bromley

141

148

140

116

134

679

29

Islington

169

175

89

71

178

682

30

Camden

180

168

89

71

175

683

31

Hackney

178

178

89

71

176

692

32

Southwark

177

177

89

71

181

695

33

Croydon

151

163

140

116

148

718


Kensington and Chelsea came out on top out of the London Boroughs, with residents here being the most likely to see the stars from their own gardens. Baxley came in second and Havering in third. The two factors that let these - and many of the other - London boroughs down are the air pollution figures and the artificial brightness levels.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels in air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated, which is why it can affect the visibility of the night sky.

In fact, the air pollution is so bad in most of London that the top 22 locations for the highest PM2.5 levels are all London Boroughs. The worst offender was Newham, with a PM2.5 level of 10.62, which is nearly triple the lowest figure from the list of locations (3.96 for Stirling in Scotland). Second was the City of London, which - considering the level of traffic wasn’t surprising - and third was Tower Hamlets.

The 20 London Boroughs with the worst air

Rank

London Borough

PM2.5 2020 (total)

1

Newham

10.62

2

City of London

10.23

3

Tower Hamlets

10.23

4

Lambeth

10.16

5

Hackney

10.13

6

Southwark

10.12

7

Kensington and Chelsea

10.07

8

Islington

10.06

9

Westminster

10.06

10

Lewisham

10.02

11

Barking and Dagenham

10.00

12

Waltham Forest

9.99

13

Hammersmith and Fulham

9.93

14

Wandsworth

9.92

15

Camden

9.75

16

Haringey

9.74

17

Merton

9.73

18

Greenwich

9.70

19

Redbridge

9.70

20

Croydon

9.31

Special moons to look out for

GRAPHIC_Special-Moons_1
  • Strawberry Moon: 14 June (12.51pm) 
  • Buck Moon: 13 July (7.38pm)
  • Sturgeon Moon: 12 August (2.36am)
  • Corn/Harvest Moon: 10 September (10.59am)
  • Hunter's Moon: 9 October (9.55pm)
  • Beaver Moon: 8 November (11.02am)
  • Cold Moon: 08 December (4.08am)

Next meteor showers to spot in your back garden

GRAPHIC_Meteors

Delta Aquariids

Visible: 12 July - 23 August

Peak: 30 July

Alpha Capricornids

Visible: 3 July - 15 August

Peak: 30 July

Perseids

Visible: 17 July - 24 August

Peak: 12-13 August

Draconids

Visible: 6-10 October

Peak: 8-9 October

Orionids

Visible: 2 October - 7 November

Peak: 21-22 October

Northern Taurids

Visible: 20 October - 10 December

Peak: 12-13 November

Leonids

Visible: 6-30 November

Peak: 17-18 November

Geminids

Visible: 4-20 December

Peak: 14-15 December

Ursids

Visible: 17-26 December

Peak: 22-23 December

Quadrantids

Visible: 28 December 2022 to 12 January 2023

Peak: 4 January

How to set up your garden for stargazing

stargazinggardens2

Want to increase your chances of having a better night sky viewing experience? Then you will need to adapt your garden. When it comes to stargazing the darker the better, this means if you are a true astronomy enthusiast choosing a dark fence paint or exterior paint if you have brick walls surrounding your garden, as darker colours will absorb any light and will stop as much reflection, making for a better stargazing experience.


The same applies for painted patios; if you have a white painted patio, you may want to consider a dark outdoor rug or painting the patio a darker shade. 


Check out our range of garden paint to find the right paint for your exterior surfaces.

Methodology


Working from a list of UK locations we collected data for each factor and then ranked them from 1 to 182. Those scoring the lowest were deemed the best and those with the highest score the worst. The highest, and therefore worst, score a place could achieve was 910 (182x5).


Sources: 


Due to weather stations not being available in every location, the closest suggested stations were always between 1-20 miles from the location stated.