Kielder Observatory is a public outreach astronomical facility located in Kielder Forest, in some of the darkest skies in Europe and the third largest Dark Skies reserve in the world.
Located in Northumberland, England, it’s situated just half a mile from the Scottish border on Black Fell near James Turrell’s Kielder Skyspace. The site was chosen as one of the locations in the UK which has the least amount of intrusive light pollution.
The primary function of the observatory is outreach via public events. The goal being to bring in members of the public of all ages from school children in primary school, and upward. The aim being to engage in discussions and observations of the Universe. They do this in a way that is friendly, informative and interesting, through their amazing team of astronomers, guest speakers and volunteers.
The observatory hosts upwards of 40 of these amazing events every month, designed for members of the public. Since its opening in 2008, the observatory has played host to over 56000 people in groups of 40, to observe, and engage with the night sky, via talks, activities and telescope observing sessions.
Click here to visit the observatory website.
The Observatory was opened by Sir Arnold Wolfendale, 14th Astronomer Royal, and has a design in keeping with the ethos of the forest, not only in style but also being environmentally friendly. The observatory look is the result of a design competition, tendered to over 230 architectural firms around the world, and which was won by Charles Barclay Architects, based in London.
One key requirement of the observatory design is that it should be in keeping with the surrounding forest and environmentally friendly, and as such it is solar and wind powered. The building was constructed using local materials, such as Sitka spruce and Siberian larch, and won the RIBA award for architectural design in 2009.
The observatory is administered by a team of full time staff, and a large group of volunteers who have collectively created the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. Their aim is to bring astronomy to surrounding community, and to promote not only the amazing dark skies, but also the beauty that is the Northumberland countryside. The society hosts the Kielder Forest Star Camp (video link) each autumn, and the Sunderland Astronomical Society holds a similar star camp each spring at the Observatory.
Kielder observatory has featured on BBC’s Sky at Night Television show, and in the wonderful ‘Robson Green’s Tales from Northumberland.
Fancy a chat?
We know Northumberland and all of our cottages inside out, so if you have any particular queries, please don’t hesitate to call or email us. We’re more than happy to help!