A new €1.3 million stargazing experience opens in Co. Tyrone next month 3 weeks ago

A new €1.3 million stargazing experience opens in Co. Tyrone next month

Got plans for next month?

How about heading to Co. Tyrone, where the €1.3 million OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory is set to open in mid-October?

Set in an area of outstanding beauty in the foothills of County Tyrone’s Sperrin Mountains, OM is the first dark sky park in Northern Ireland, and by the looks of it, it's well worth a visit.

With some of the darkest skies in the world in an area free from light pollution, the setting is ideal to savour exceptionally clear views of star constellations – an experience we reckon even the most jaded traveller and uninterested tween and teen will actually end up being amazed at.

Located at Davagh Forest, less than 3 hours’ drive from Dublin, OM will welcome its first visitors on October 17th, with a new moon in the sky offering a perfect weekend for stargazing.

The new visitor centre and observatory, with its cedar cladding and sedum green roof, uses state-of-the-art technology to deliver a completely immersive experience for visitors.

The OM exhibition uses touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes and interpretative panels to help visitors explore our solar system, while donning a virtual reality headset means visitors can witness the birth of a star and the mesmerising Aurora Borealis, 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 in action during special star-gazing events and VIP tours.

As well as the guided exhibition tour, the night-time experience includes the OM Odyssey, an outdoor film screening which either speeds the audience from urban lights into the vastness of the universe or swoops them through an ancient forest, under the fast-flowing Broughderg River before they soar into the sky.

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."

The opening of OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory comes after the re-opening of Northern Ireland’s existing major visitor attractions, meaning you don’t need an epic trek to have epic fun on a staycation or short break this autumn.

“This is a unique development in a truly special place," said Mallaghan. "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.”

Sounds divine, really.