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
Great place with very passionate people
Claire N, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
We visited for an aurora evening, the place was lovely and the staff were amazing. They explained the science behind the aurora in a way very easy to understand, showed us the equipment they use and just generally a very fun evening. Unfortunately for us the evening was cloudy so we were unable to do any stargazing but that didn’t take anything away from our experience. We will definitely be booking another evening here.
Star gazing night
Alan M, Falkirk, United Kingdom
I wasn't looking forward to this at all and driving through the fog didn't help my mood. However, my wife had got the event tickets as a Christmas present and she was very keen, having the first date cancelled because of heavy snow. We attended the midnight event which lasted 3 hours. Unable to use the telescopes because of the weather, the observatory team set about doing a variety of presentations and short tours of the microscope installations. It was mind blowing! All of the observatory team were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable, they made the 3 hours pass in a flash. The welcome coffee and memorable hot chocolate also helped turn my anticipated dreadful night, into one of the best experiences of my life! From a grumpy old man who didn't care what was in the sky, to someone wanting more and more information about the stars and galaxies.
Great evening despite the bad weather!
Caroline W, Prudhoe, United Kingdom
Trying to go stargazing when the skies are full of thick fog is always going to be a challenge!! Our hosts, Dan, Dan, Hayden and Dave, gave us an interesting and informative evening. Hoping to return with better weather. Thank you all concerned!
lovesarigerme, South Shields, United Kingdom
Visited for Aurora night on 9th April. Waited months for this so was very excited! Myself, my fiancée and my 12 year old daughter came. Hosts Adam and Wayne were amazing, their knowledge and passion was fab and made the whole evening interesting with plenty of humour too. They really made the evening, and I hope they go onto great things as they deserve to. Our favourite bit was not looking through the telescopes, but listening to the guys. Becky was great too, and we were amazed that all 3 could look up into the night sky and know which star was which out of the many up there. It is worth the wait for the months in advance you have to book. And yes, dress warmly!
Educational, fun and mind blowing
Grim72, Freuchie, United Kingdom
After a week of atrocious weather we feared the worst but thankfully this was the one day of the week with sunshine. We booked A Universe Full Of Stars for our mum's birthday as she'd always wanted to visit - unfortunately we had cloud cover for the first two hours of the event but then the clouds parted and we enjoyed beautiful views of the stars - and a fly-by from the International Space Station which was so clear to see it looked like an aeroplane (a mighty fast one though). The event was well organised with plenty to keep the room entertained - presenters and presentations were well prepared and delivered with fascinating nuggets of information. Some went over my head, but it was good for most ages - it kept our 12 year old son's attention for the full three hours too. You really do learn a lot and leave the place in absolute awe of the sheer vastness of what's 'out there' and just how tiny the little bubble that we live on actually is. You get split into three groups to cover all of the subjects and to have a go on the two telescopes, which makes it all manageable. A few words of note - it is dark! All lighting is kept to a minimum to avoid risk of light pollution - our parents both had sticks with them and aren't overly mobile so it did take us to guide them along the ramps etc when moving between locations. It's also easy to lose your group on the observation deck if you're not paying attention lol. Oh and wrap up warm - it's warm in the first room but soon chills when you go to the telescopes and/or outdoors. If anyone has a genuine interest in cosmology then this event is definitely for you.