Coll Bird Festival 2019
Coll and the Cosmos
Dark Sky and Coll & The Cosmos Courses for 2019 & 20202019-09-17T11:55:40+00:00

Coll & The Cosmos Courses for 2019 & 2020
26/27 October 2019

28/29 March 2020

An Astronomical Adventure on Coll

Coll & The Cosmos is a stargazing weekend break on the Isle of Coll which makes the most of the island’s incredible dark sky. The break has been specifically designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. No prior knowledge of astronomy is needed; we’ll bring you the best of the night sky in a way that is fun and easily understandable.

Coll & The Cosmos is a collaboration between Coll Bunkhouse and Cosmos Planetarium. We use state of the art technology to deliver an amazing stargazing learning experience in a fantastic location. Our 6 metre indoor planetarium is a fully digital, 360° immersive multi-media theatre experience, ideal for taking a journey through the solar system and learning about a range of astronomical subjects.

We also offer an array of different astronomical equipment to use, from simple binoculars to large astronomical telescopes with ‘Goto’ and wireless Bluetooth capabilities. If you have your own telescope, bring it along and we’ll show you how to get the best use from it. During the day, we can offer solar observing with close-up views of the sun and its flares, filaments and sun-spots, using our dedicated Hydrogen Alpha and white light solar telescopes.

By night, Coll has a naturally unpolluted starry sky – equivalent to Death Valley National Park in the USA – which make it perfect for stargazing. With a sky that dark, many deep sky objects can be seen with the naked eye. Some of these include star clusters like the ‘Beehive’ & ‘Double Cluster’, nebulae like the ‘Great Orion Nebula’ and the ‘Andromeda Galaxy’. The bright band of the Milky Way can also be easily seen arching over the night sky at certain times of the year.

In December 2013, Coll was officially designated as a ‘Dark-Sky Community’ by the International Dark-Sky Association, on account of its dark sky and commitment to minimising light pollution. We are very fortunate on Coll to have such a unique natural environment which makes it such a fantastic location for stargazing. To provide a little context to the meaning of this award, the Isle of Coll was:
• the 1st Dark Sky Community, and Island, – in Scotland
• the 22nd Dark Sky Place to be designated – in the world.

Cosmos Planetarium are based in central Scotland but have collaborated with Coll Bunkhouse to deliver this experience in a location which can truly be described as top-class when it comes to stargazing.

You can read more about the work of Coll’s Dark Sky group’s efforts to minimise light pollution on the island and the application to the International Dark-Sky Association using the following link: Coll – A Dark-Sky Island.

Coll & the Cosmos is a two-day astronomical voyage of discovery, with approximately 10 hours of learning and stargazing activities delivered by our expert astronomers.

No other stargazing short break in the UK offers as wide a range of astronomical equipment, practical hands on instruction in using telescopes and developing observing techniques, combined with the awesome experience of time inside our fully digital immersive planetarium.

With the planetarium, even if it’s cloudy during your stay, we can still give you a virtual tour of our wonderful dark sky, exactly as it should look that evening. All of this takes place on the Isle of Coll, a real hidden gem among Scotland’s Hebridean islands. Now not only can you discover the beauty of the island itself but also experience the wonders of the night sky under some of the darkest sky in Europe.

You can view the full timetable for the weekend here: Course Content.

The courses are run subject to minimum numbers (8 people).

The course is delivered by James Green and Steven Gray of Cosmos Planetarium. James has a BSc (Hons) in physics is a member of the Institute of Physics and is a keen amateur astronomer. Steven has had a lifelong fascination with the night sky, is also a keen amateur astronomer and solar system imager. Both are members of the British Association of Planetaria and Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society and have many years experience delivering astronomy outreach classes and courses. You can find out more about Cosmos Planetarium via their website.
The course costs £90 for adults and £75 for younger people (12 – 17 years).

Accommodation is available at Coll Bunkhouse,  which has 2 dorms of 6-beds each, and a 4-bed ‘family’ room booked at a room rate by groups of up to 4 people. Alternative accommodation is available just a few minutes walk away including the Coll Hotel, Tigh na Mara and Dun Fraoch Bed & Breakfasts. Further self-catering accommodation can be found here.

This is an informal course and is first and foremost intended to be fun and as flexible as possible regarding the level of the content. We strongly believe astronomy and science in general should be as accessible as possible for everyone.

Lots of people get telescopes as gifts but never learn how to use them properly, feel free to bring along any equipment you have and we will show you how to get the best out of it.

During the evening observing sessions, if the sky is clear, remember that it can be very cold so please make sure you pack appropriate winter clothing.

To make the most of the clear sky (if we do get them!) the evening observing sessions can of course be extended. Both James and Steven the course leaders are passionate about everything to do with the night sky and will be spending a considerable amount of their nights on Coll looking up.

To book, call now on 01879 230217 or email

Cancellation Policy – due to a lack of passing custom, and the planning required to visit Coll, course cancellations made within 28 days of the course start date will not be refunded.

Steven and James have a wealth of experience delivering to schools and youth groups throughout the UK and also run a family version of our popular stargazing short breaks suitable for all ages called “Cosmos Space Academy”. Millions of children will never have the opportunity to see the Milky Way with their own eyes due to light pollution. You can on Coll. The bright band of the Milky Way is easily visible along with many other amazing celestial objects from comets to far flung galaxies.

Cosmos Space Academy activities include rocket making (and launching) workshops, solar astronomy, mars landing simulation using the XBOX 360 and a range of movies in the digital planetarium. You can read the full programme at Cosmos Space Academy.  Please contact us to discuss the Space Academy courses  if you are interested.

Stay on Coll from £22 per person, per night…

5* hostel accommodation on the Hebridean Isle of Coll.