When you look into the Northumberland sky on a dark night you’ll be mesmerised by the sight of up to 2000 stars at any one time. But could you name the constellations you are seeing?
The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park unveiled five years ago as Europe’s largest area of protected night sky meaning that on a clear night, away from artificial light such as street lights, you can gaze up to the heavens for a star studded show. Even outside the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park there are numerous stargazing opportunities in Northumberland. If you’d like to learn more about Northumberland’s starry spectacular and see further than the naked eye be sure to plan a visit to one of Northumberland’s observatories, which are all nestled under extremely dark skies. Dark winter nights are best for viewing galaxies, whereas in the summer you may be lucky enough to see shooting stars and passing comets.
Like the deck of a ship sailing above the landscape, Kielder Observatory located in Kielder Water & Forest Park, is perfect whether you are a beginner or an experienced stargazer. The knowledgeable and passionate team run hundreds of events throughout the year from Family Astronomy to Late Night Deep Sky Observing where you will be guided around the night sky, but be sure to book early to avoid disappointment. Make a holiday of it and book a short break or week stay; as well as accommodation at Kielder Water & Forest Park, you’ll find a selection of B&Bs and holiday cottages at the nearby villages of Bellingham and Falstone.
Just outside the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park in the picturesque village of Wark, Battlesteads Observatory, offers talks and activities to suit all levels. Battlesteads Observatory offers the perfect compromise between the beautiful grandeur of dark skies and the facilities offered by a 21st century countryside village location. Enjoy the majestic sight of dark skies with the luxuries and comforts of Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant. Whether you’d prefer a relaxing meal in the bar, views of the garden from the conservatory or an intimate experience in the restaurant, your taste buds, as well as your eyes, are in for a treat. If you don’t fancy the drive home afterwards Battlesteads has 22 ensuite bedrooms, so treat yourself to a night away.
Set high on the hillside above the village of Allenheads, the North Pennines Observatory is Northumberland’s newest dark sky facility. On a clear night you can wonder at views of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system. Learn more about the night sky with introductory stargazing sessions for beginners as well as talks for groups and amateur astronomers. During the day explore the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty one of the most remote and unspoilt places in England. This breathtaking wilderness is home to an array of wildlife; 80% of the UK’s black grouse population live on the moorland of the North Pennines.
Plan a visit to one of Northumberland’s observatories and you’ll soon be able to name that star.
Photo: Battlesteads Observatory