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Daily Mail: Reach for the Stars

Fri 01 Mar 2013

With astronomy all the rage, Beatrice Cowley seeks out homes with heavenly views,

Reach for the Stars

eteors, asterouds and comets have caused quite a stir of late. And the success of the BBC's recent Stargazing Live programme with Brian Cox reveals we are a nation of keen astronomers. It can't be long before 'good view of the stars' starts appearing on estate agents' details.

There are several tricks to finding the most astronomically-friendly homes, says Graham Bryant, chairman of the Hampshire Astronomical Group.

"A south-facing farden is preferable, not too near any large trees, and away from street lights and floodlighting. It's much easier when you're in a rural location, but it is possible to enjoy astronomy in towns and cities, even London".

Dark Sky Discovery, the astronomy network, says that from a city centre you might see about 100 stars with the naked eye, but this improves as you get further away from street lighting. Under a dark sky you can see more than 1,000 stars and even our galaxy, the Mily Way, as well as other planets, space satellites and shooting stars.

Agents say they occasionally get requests from buyers looking for a home with a good vantage point, such as a turret, roof garden or even an observatory in the garden.

Ian Lange, at Chesterton Humberts in Honilton, East Devon, once had to go the extra mile for a stargazing buyer. "We went over a local map showing him the more isolated areas where there is little light pollution, and eventually found him the perfect home" he says.

Once you've found the right spot for clear skies, how do you make the most of the view? The owners of the Old Lighthouse at Dale, Pembrokeshire have the answer. Their home features an observation lounge with 360-degree views over the coastline and islands of Skomer and Skokholm.

The living room even has a small kitchenette with a sink and firdge, so stargazers can make a cup of tea without leaving the room. Carol Peett, at The County Homesearch Company, says: "The observation lounge is where the lighthouse's lantern used to be. You could sit up there for hours watching the sunset and gazing at the stars." The five-bedroom conversion is on the market with Fine & County for 975,000.

Buying your own island seems a rather extravagant step to avoid light pollution, but serious astronomers would love Eilean Righ, a private island situated on the coastline of Argyll in Loch Craignish. The four-bedroom home also comes with a three-bedroom farmhouse and a rotating observatory. It was built just away from the house, so that the owner could examine the clear skies above. EileanRigh is on the market for 3milluon with Knight Frank.

Of course, not every astronomer can live in such isolation. John D. Wood estate agency in West London marketed a five-bedroom property in Pimlico with a retractable glass roof.

The entire floor is one big room and the roof even closes automatically if it starts to rain. "It would be a wonderful space to look as the stars" says Hugo Headlam, at John D. Wood.

Knight Frank has sold an even more unusual property. The Water Tower, in Burton Green, Warwickshire, exchanged for 250,000. The redundant water tower has planning permission to convert it into a four befroom home.

Richard Symonds, at Knight Frank's Stratford office, says: "The Water Tower could be a stargazer's paradise, with a roof garden overlooking open countryside."

Penthouse appartments not only offer fabulous vistas during the day but can provide great starry views at night. Marsh & Parsons has a four bedroom flat in Sailmakers Court, Fulham, South-West London, arranged over the eighth and ninth floors overlooking the River Thames.

Sebastian Oliver at Marsh & Parsons says: "The reception room features a large conservatory overlooking London, and even the lighting inside mirrors the night sky." Sailmakers Court is on the market for 1,995,000

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