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
Night sky tour!
Tony H, Northumberland, United Kingdom
Night sky tour was excellent, very informative. Unfortunately the weather was not so good and we did not get chance to use the giant telescopes. Lots of theory & information, but nothing to see. Still worth a visit, but VERY weather dependent, obviously!
Shame it was cloudy but the plan B is good
Nowt you can do about the vagaries of the British weather and we hit a cloudy night. We nearly didn't bother turning up but fair play to the really enthusiastic guys running it - they make it as fun an evening as it can be for thirty or so disappointed folk who know there ain't going to be any stargazing live. If I could guarantee a cloud free night I'd be back again in a shot as I'm sure it wouldn't be disappointing.
It went light years beyond our expectations!
CarolineWoo, Derby, United Kingdom
I booked the Night Sky Safari for my husband's Christmas present, to give him an interesting experience, since he is into new experiences and is a bit of a space/science geek. Before we went we were managing our expectations, since a clear night is not guaranteed and we also knew there would be a 'sit down talk', which normally turns both of us off. We thought it might be a bit of a dull lecture. We couldn't have been more wrong! We arrived to what seemed like another planet, in the pitch black to the sound of the wind turbine whizzing and chaps with red head torches showing us where we needed to go. Since the sky was clear, but clouds were forecast later in the evening, the team decided to get us straight out observing and do the talk after. We went in 2 different observatories and then on an outside deck and in each place a different member of the team talked us through what we were seeing. They were expert on different things, so this mixed it up a bit. The event was full but with the participants split in to groups there were perhaps a dozen in each space and so you didn't have to wait long at all for your turn on the telescope. After a great time outside we went in to warm up and have the talk and hot chocolates (yum). Don't underestimate how cold it can get! We were dressed sensibly but still got absolutely bloomin' freezing! The talk blew us away. The Dr who gave it was just the most engaging presenter and had me gripped all the way through. He just had a way of explaining things so that Penny from Big Bang Theory would understand, whilst still getting deeply scientific enough for Leonard! Altogether an absolutely brilliant experience!
Kielder Observatory replied: We were delighted to hear that you had such a good night and are fortunate in having such a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. We hope to see you back at the observatory in the future and we have our events now listed on the website for the rest of the year. Best wishes
Night under the cloud...
After a great drive through the beautiful countryside we arrived at the observatory in the dark.. Daniel met us and we followed him up to the observatory Straight away his passion and enthusiasm for what he did was phenomenal and inspiring. We stood on the deck outside and he showed us Jupiter and the Moon through the two telescopes on the deck - wow. Unfortunately then the weather closed in and with cloud cover and rain we weren't able to see anything. This made the teams job all the more difficult - but they rose to the challenge and kept the group entertained through to the very early hours of the morning. So a huge thank you to Dan and Matt. With Becky and Hayden in support they did a great job of keeping us entertained, educated and inspired. We will definitely back just hopefully when there isn't any cloud cover! Thanks for an amazing night nevertheless. Great job guys
Kielder Observatory replied: Many thanks Tim for your review and delighted that you had such an enjoyable night despite the weather closing in. We are fortunate in having such a passionate and dedicated team of staff and volunteers who do work hard to give a good experience in all conditions. We now have an exciting programme of events posted on our website for the rest of the year and hope to welcome you back. Best wishes
Another cloudy night review, but still worthwhile
Dave A, Northallerton, United Kingdom
A really well organised, interesting and enlightening event. On the face of it going star gazing and not being able to see more than 50 feet could be a bit of a downer, but the evening passed really quickly thanks to the staff (and what I guess is a well enacted Plan B) who were informative and enthusiastic. We probably learnt more about cosmology on our visit there, than going to see Brian Cox the next day.
Kielder Observatory replied: Thank you for your review and delighted that you had such an enjoyable and informative night ... our team do try hard to accommodate all conditions and levels of interest and we hope that we see you back at the observatory in more favourable conditions. Best wishes