Where to spot rare green comet tonight in Northumberland and County Durham

Photograph: Dan Bartlett/Nasa/PA

A rare, green comet is about to fly past Earth before disappearing into the solar system. It has not passed Earth since the Stone Age and is currently visible in the night sky.

Comet E3 will not be visible again for another 50,000 years, which makes the sighting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Nasa announced that the comet made its closest approach to the Sun on Thursday the 12th of January, and it will pass closest to Earth tonight, when it will be 26.4 million miles away.

The best way to see the comet will be through binoculars or a telescope, but Nasa claims it could be visible to the naked eye if the conditions are right and you are in a dark spot with little to no light pollution.

Northumberland is known as one of the best places to stargaze in the UK, with 572 square miles of the county being awarded Gold Tier status for their pristine dark skies.

Here are the best dark spots in Northumberland that will give you the best opportunity of seeing the passing comet if you head out after midnight tonight:

Kielder Observatory

Black Fell, Kielder, Hexham NE48 1EJ

Open all year round and located in the heart of Northumberland International Sky Park. Kielder Observatory is situated in the largest gold-tier dark sky park in Europe.

The Redesdale Arms

North, Otterburn, Rochester NE19 1TA

Awarded “Dark Sky Stay and Gaze by Northumberland Tourism.

Cawfields Quarry

Quarry, Cawfields, Pennine Way and Hadrian’s Wall Path, Haltwhistle NE49 9PJ

This spectacular setting is located just 1 mile from Herding Hill Farm and is one of the best places for stargazing in the UK.


Hexham NE48 3DX

Built in 1957 to house forestry commission workers, this village sits among beautiful trees and is renowned for dark, starry skies and tranquility.

There are also plenty of great dark spots in County Durham:

Bolderhead Reservoir

Hunderthwaite, Near Cotherstone, County Durham, DL12

A dark Sky Discovery Site, this location allows overnight parking (for a fee) but does not allow overnight camping.

Bollihope Common

Hill End, Frosterly, County Durham, DL13 2SY

This location has been identified by the Go Stargazing Team as a good location for stargazing based on light pollution levels.

Burnhope Reservoir

Wearhead, St Johns Chapel, County Durham, DL13

Another Dark Sky Discovery Site with overnight parking available.

Hamsterley Forest Visitor Centre

Hamsterley Forest Bedburn, County Durham, DL13 3NL

This site is freely accessible to the public with 24 hour toilet facilities, overnight parking charges apply. The surrounding trees block out most of the light pollution, leaving the Milky Way clearly visible above, a prime location for potential comet sighting.