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A brand new observatory and dark sky park is opening in Tyrone very soon

By Rory Cashin

September 22, 2020 at 12:09pm

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A perfect addition for anyone in the staycation mood this winter.

If you happen to find yourself in the foothills of County Tyrone's Sperrin Mountains, you will encounter some of the darkest skies in the world, devoid of light pollution, and if it happens to be a particularly clear night, then those dark skies will be lit up by the star constellations.

This is also where you'll soon find Northern Ireland's first dark sky park, a location where stargazers can come to check out that impressive night sky, and now with the assistance of a new £1.2 million (€1.31 million) stargazing experience: the OM Observatory.

The new exhibition will use touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes and interpretative panels to help visitors explore our solar system, and you can also stick on a virtual reality headset to witness the birth of a star, or check out the incredible Aurora Borealis at any time of the day or night.

The centrepiece of the building is the first-floor observatory with a retractable roof where the 14-inch LX600 Meade telescope will be used for special star-gazing events and VIP tours.

Mid-Ulster Council Chair, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said: "To be opening a major new visitor attraction during a pandemic is an achievement in itself and where better than in the midst of a vast outdoor space at Davagh Forest which is part of our newly designated Dark Sky Park, one of only 78 across the entire globe and only the second in Ireland.

"This is a unique development in a truly special place, with an ancient landscape, amazing archaeology, including Beaghmore Stone Circles which is considered by some to have been the first observatory on this land, all under the darkest of skies with unrivalled views of the galaxy."

The OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory is set to open to the public on Saturday, October 17, and you can book your tickets right here.

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