Kielder Observatory is an astronomical attraction at Kielder Water & Forest Park run by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. Please visit www.kielderobservatory.org for all event bookings.
Famed for having the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution, Kielder Water & Forest Park is a star gazers' heaven and the Observatory offers exciting opportunities for those with an interest in learning more about the night sky.
Like the deck of a ship sailing above the landscape, the Observatory provides astronomers with a permanent facility in the heart of Northumberland. It is part of the art and architecture programme that has turned the park into an open air gallery over the last ten years.
Anyone can visit the Observatory at any time and walk around the decking. However, the turrets and astronomical equipment can only be operated by fully qualified members of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS) during specific events. Check www.kielderobservatory.org for all event listings.
Those wishing to visit during the day can park in the car park for Skyspace* (signed posted from Kielder Castle) and walk up the hill (50 minutes) - there are also excellent views of Kielder Water.
The Observatory is fantastic to visit all year round - the spectacular views are best in summer while the winter nights are darker and better for star gazing.
As part of the process of developing the Observatory project, artist Alec Finlay created 'One Hundred Year Star Diary', an astronomical diary cataloguing all major astronomical events from 2008-2108 with space for owners to write their own notes and observations on the events that they have witnessed. Finlay researched the book with professional astronomers and developed a series of visual representations for each type of event. Please see Star Diary's separate entry for more information. Information about Alec Finlay's work can be found at www.alecfinlay.com
*Skyspace is a circular room which is illuminated by a combination of natural and artificial light at different times of the day. During dawn and dusk, the changing light conditions create a rich and unforgettable display of tone and colour. Both Skyspace and the Observatory are part of the art & architecture programme at Kielder Water & Forest Park.
To reach the observatory make your way to the additional car park for the Skyspace (see map) and begin your walk from there. Distance 1 mile to the Skyspace, a further 0.5 miles to the Observatory. Please note that there is a vehicular barrier beyond the additional car park and although you can obtain a key from the Forestry Commission shop to make it possible to drive as far as the Skyspace, vehicular access after this point is restricted to times when astronomy events are being held.
The Observatory is run by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS) who have developed an access programme to enable people to find out more about astronomy, visit the building and use the astronomical equipment. This programme covers all levels of interest and includes both night and daytime events.
|Kielder Observatory is part of Kielder Art and Architecture and so are...|
|Minotaur - Nick Coombe and Shona Kitchen 2003, Kielder (Garden)|
|Janus Chairs Viewpoint, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Cat Cairn: the Kielder Skyspace - James Turrell 2000, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Kielder Observatory, Kielder (Science and Technology)|
|Kielder Column - John Maine 1999, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Mirage - Kisa Kawakami 2006, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Silvas Capitalis - SIMPARCH 2009, Hexham (Great Outdoors)|
|Janus Chairs - Ryder Architecture 2009, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Viewpoints - Tania Kovats 1998, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Mapping mini golf, Kielder (Sport and Leisure)|
|Play Garden - Zone Architects 2006, Kielder (Sightseeing and Leisure)|
|Shadow - Julia Barton 1995, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Freya’s Cabin - Studio Weave 2009, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Belvedere - Softroom Architects 1999, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|55-02 - Sixteen (makers) 2009, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Wave Chamber - Chris Drury 1996, Kielder (Great Outdoors)|
|Stell - Colin Wilbourn 2006, Falstone (Great Outdoors)|
|Type||Entry for||Guide price|
Car parking available
Events must be booked in advance
Open all year
Ticket booking essential
Poor attitude towards customer safety
BliniSam, North West UK
We were scheduled to attend an event in December. However, the BBC issued a severe weather warning for the Kielder area with forecast for structural damage. We therefore decided it was sensible not to make the journey to Kielder, after all, probably not a good idea to drive a family through a forest in the middle of the night, when there was a 50+mph wind forecast. I tried to call the centre to see if the event was still on, however, nobody answered the phone and my email went ignored. We therefore reasonably assumed that the event had been cancelled, with there being such a bad weather warning and nobody there to respond to our enquiry – a reasonable assumption to make, I think. Luckily, I print-screened the weather forecast that day. I have tried to have the tickets transferred to another date but was told that this was not possible as Kielder Observatory have said there is no evidence there was any strong winds that night (even though I have supplied a print screen of the forecast for the night and a Beaufort scale definition). In addition, they say they will not refund because they are ‘a charity’, although many businesses run on charitable models. I think this is extremely poor service – we had all good intentions to attend the event and were excited to do so, and when the weather forecast advised us not to travel, we didn’t. I also understand that charities have to ‘make a living’, but I think that it is harsh to expect people to attend when it is not safe to do so (according to the weather forecast). Kielder Observatory – you also said you had spoken to the Met Office about my enquiry – I will speak to the Met Office myself to see if you indeed have rang them, or if this is just another excuse to provide poor service when you expect people to travel against advice for the sake of making a few quid to keep your charity running. Very disappointed in your lack of care or respect for safety warnings in bad weather.
Kielder Observatory replied: Thank you for your feedback and we review all of the reviews carefully. I have carried out an internal investigation of the circumstances and spoken to my colleagues at length. We take all comments very seriously and I am satisfied that you have had prompt and courteous service at all times. The evening to which you refer had two events and the majority of guests who had prebooked for the two events attended the event and had an enjoyable time. I am sorry that you feel that the service offered on this occasion has not met your requirements and as a gesture of goodwill we have now arranged vouchers for you to rebook at your convenience and also waived the usual administration fee.
Notnedj, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
We visited Friday night for the Universe galaxy full of stars at 11:30-2am. Unfortunately it was a cold cloudy and snowy night so we didn't get to see any stars. Gary and his team at Kielder are wonderful and so passionate not only about what they do, but also about their visitors and in ensuring they have a good experience no matter what the weather. We were welcomed inside the warm lecture room and sat down. Our expectations were managed immediately in regard to what we would be able to see or not see, and you could tell the staff were disappointed for us. We were introduced to each of the team and then split into groups to go and see different parts of the observatory, in particular the telescopes and computer equipment. After we had a turn with each member of the team who are all both knowledgable and charismatic, there was a break for hot drinks. My husband and I had to leave early due to getting back in a snow blizzard so we went at this point. I would definitely return and would say the ticket price is well worth the money clear skies or not - Looking forward to going back soon! Thank you all at Kielder Observatory. A wonderful and important charity.
Kielder Observatory replied: Many thanks for your review and we are delighted that you had an enjoyable night despite the far from ideal observing conditions. We hope to welcome you back again and I would encourage you to keep an eye on our web site to review forthcoming events and to hear news of our future exciting development plans.
Elizabeth M, Whitley Bay, United Kingdom
Although unable to see through the telescopes because of the bad weather this didn't stop us from having a remarkable visit. I could have listened to Garry for hours and found it hard to believe that we had been there for over three hours. All the staff were enthusiastic and it was wonderful to actually feel not only slices of meterorites, but also to touch a piece of the moon. On a cold night it was great to be given the hot chocolate. Only thing is that for every questioned answered I now seem to have many more swirling round in my head. AMAZING!
Kielder Observatory replied: Many thanks for your review Elizabeth and so pleased that you had an enjoyable night. We hope to welcome you back again soon and please keep an eye on our website for details of our forthcoming events and exciting future development plans.
Star Gazing at it's best
JohnVivH, Barnsley, United Kingdom
Went on my husband's 60th birthday while on holiday in Northumberland. The observatory and staff exceeded our expectations. The staff are knowledgeable, as you would expect, but also witty and funny and are able to pitch the talk to everyone who attended, no mean feat. I cannot recommend this place highly enough and we'd both love to return soon.
Kielder Observatory replied: Many thanks for your review and so pleased that you had such a memorable birthday celebration. We hope to welcome you back on a future occasion and please keep an eye on our website for details of future events and our exciting development plans.
Attended one of their Night Safari events on 5th February. Our timing with the weather was good, partly cloudy when we arrived then became more clear for the next hour or so before becoming more cloudy again. In the gap we had great views of the moon and various star constellations. The staff were great, very helpful and knowledgeable. When it became more cloudy we adjourned indoors for hot drinks and talks by two of the staff. Would happily visit again for a different event night.
Kielder Observatory replied: Many thanks for your review and so pleased that you had an enjoyable night. Please keep an eye on our website for details of future events and news of our exciting development plans.