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.
The observatory runs a wide variety of events every evening with extra at weekends and school holidays; from main evening observing evenings to shorter educational family events and specialist science events. Check www.kielderobservatory.org for all event listings and to book places. Please note pre-booking is essential. 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.
To reach the observatory, follow signs up the forest track and park at the top car park. The track will be opened approx. 1 hour before the start of your event, access is only for those with tickets for that event. Those wishing to visit during the day to enjoy views down to Kielder Water (facility will be closed) can park in the car park for Skyspace* just off the main road and walk up the hill (50 minutes). Please note that there is a vehicular barrier beyond the bottom 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.
*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.
Sat-nav users beware, the observatory does not have a postcode.
Coming northbound from Bellingham the turn off for the observatory is about 1/2 mile before Kielder Village (NE48 1ER), the track is clearly marked with a brown road tourism sign labelled "Kielder Skyspace and Observatory".
Southbound from Scotland drive straight past Kielder Village (NE48 1ER) then the turn off for the observatory is about 1/2 mile after the village, the track is clearly marked with a brown road tourism sign labelled "Kielder Skyspace and Observatory".
The track will be opened to vehicles 1 hr before the event starts and it is a further 2 miles through the forest to the observatory visitor car park. If the track is not open when you arrive please wait for a staff member to arrive, the track is suitable for most vehicles but do not exceed 15mph. Disabled visitors may park beside the observatory building. We have no waiting area so if you arrive very early please wait in the decking area or in your vehicle.
|Kielder Observatory is a venue for ...|
|Northumberland Dark Sky Park, Kielder(Great Outdoors)|
|Kielder Observatory - Main Evening Event, Kielder(Star gazing events)|
|Kielder Observatory - Family Events, Kielder(Family event)|
|Kielder Observatory - Specialist Events, Kielder(Talk/Lecture)|
|Kielder Observatory - Weekend Late Night Event, Kielder(Star gazing 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)|
|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
divepom, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
No refund or option for alternative dates should the weather be overcast. For such a long drive learning what is going on behind the clouds is just not worth it.
535stephl, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Despite the rain we had a great visit. Able to do some stargazing at the beginning and our guide was wonderful if helping us to understand the night sky. Great tour of the observatory and interesting talks. Our guides for the evening were friendly, fun, highly knowledgeable and interesting. Looking forward to a return. Visit whe. Hopefully there will be less rain
Knowledgable & enthusiastic staff
paultI2261CS, Horsham, United Kingdom
We were both lucky & unlucky in our visit in that, due to the snow we couldn't get to the actual observatory, but we did have an exceptionally clear night. The observatory is apparently up a small lane off the main road so the snow prevented us getting there & having access to the large in-situ telescopes. Instead the event was held in the nearby Kielder Castle using mobile smaller telescopes. No doubt this meant we saw less or what we saw was less clear but what we saw was still impressive. The astronomers were highly knowledgeable and very enthusiastic and helped us see all manner of stars, nebulai and galaxies, both near and far, well known and less well known. It did get very cold though (it started at 11:45pm & we left at 02:30) and we were happy to go indoors after 90-plus minutes of guided star gazing to enjoy the excellent as advertised hot chocolate and then a fascinating lecture by the senior astronomer - my mind was blown with the fantastic facts, photos & diagrams!
grahamphillippo, Newton Aycliffe, United Kingdom
Visited the observatory on Saturday 28th Jan for the Late Night Explorer evening starting at 11.45pm. on arrival it was cloudy and overcast but the staff assured us we would be able to gaze at the stars. After an excellent presentation on the night sky we were treated to a guided tour of the observatory which was fascinating. Following another presentation on lunar rocks which again was fascinating we had a cup of hot chocolate. It was then that the night sky begin to reveal all its glory. For the next hour and a half we were treated to a fantastic sight the likes I have never witnessed before. Using the telescopes we were treated to amazing views of the night sky. The staff were fantastic. They were obviously very knowledgeable about there individual specialist subjects but the enthusiasm and dedication was infectious. The evening was supposed to finish at 2.45am but despite the fact that the staff had been at work since 3 pm we did not leave the observatory till 3.30am. Well done to all the staff and we are already looking to re visit the site on 12th August for our daughters birthday.
Fabulous, clear sky and my first shooting star!
Robin H, Durham, United Kingdom
We booked out a whole evening for a coach load of about 30 friends and acquaintances who all wanted to see the stars at the darkest part of Britain. It is a long way from anywhere, largely because it has to be to avoid light pollution. We were very lucky, as the sky was absolutely clear for about two hours, and the stars shone so brightly. I saw my first shooting star, completely by accident as I was just looking in the right direction at the right time. I also peered through the telescopes to see the furthest cluster of stars that the naked eye can see, and many clusters far beyond what we can see. I learned loads, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. As one presenter said, 'basically, we are just looking at lights, far away'. It was cold, so wrap up well, and you probably will leave late - we left at about 11.30pm. The hot chocolate in the take-home Kielder mug (£3.75 extra) was welcome, and the information sheets on the Aurora and taking pictures at night will come in handy. I would say, take the risk on the weather, and visit if you are at all interested in the stars and astronomy.