Dr Adrian Jannetta, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Chairman of Northumberland Astronomical Society
Adrian Jannetta is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Chairman of Northumberland Astronomical Society (NASTRO). Adrian has written a mathematics textbook for science and engineering students and his picture of the 2004 transit of Venus was recently published in Sir Patrick Moore’s recent book The Sky at Night. By day he is a mathematics tutor at Newcastle University, where he prepares international students for their science and engineering degrees. Prior to that Adrian had research interests in medical imaging – particularly how image processing methods could be used to make the precursors of breast cancer easier to detect in x-ray images. He has also dabbled a little in cosmology! Adrian, who lives in Morpeth, is one of a group of local amateur astronomers who meet regularly to observe the sky at our observatory at Hauxley Nature Reserve. NASTRO is very active in promoting astronomy at events throughout Northumberland.
How long have you lived/worked/visited in Northumberland or The Scottish Borders?: I’ve lived in Northumberland all my life.
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: Obviously Northumberland has more than its fair share of beautiful countryside, historical places and unspoilt beaches. But as an astronomer….it’s the dark night skies that really appeal to me. Northumberland National Park has one of the darkest skies in the country – perfect for seeing deep into the universe. Even if you live in a town with lots of light pollution as I do, dark skies closer to hand are only a short drive away.
What’s your favourite Northumberland/Borders beauty spot?: The waterfall at Hareshaw Linn near Bellingham. This little gem is at the end of a nice walk which takes you through spoil heaps of a Victorian Ironworks and then through the woods. Near the waterfull the air in forest begins to feels like a rainforest. There’s a spot directly opposite the waterfall where you can sit, sheltered, and watch the water.
Tell us about your favourite nightspot?: Well, you’re asking an astronomer so don’t be surprised if I say somewhere dark! The observatory at Hauxley Nature Reserve. A friendly bunch of astronomers, good banter and not so far from civilisation that you can’t get takeaway delivered on those long, cold winter nights.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland/the Borders wouldn’t be complete without….: Visiting somewhere dark on a clear night. There are so few places in the UK where you see the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon – the view is slowly being eroded by light pollution. Northumberland is such a big and largely unspoiled county that there are still many places to rekindle your interest in the night sky.
Why is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: Buying food grown and produced locally that hasn’t travelled half way round the world can only be a good thing. Supporting local businesses and farmers by buying locally produced food is something we can all do sometimes. Personally, I love locally produced cheese!
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: There’s good places to eat everywhere it seems! The fish and chip shops in Amble are fantastic; sitting and eating next to the harbour on a sunny evening is always a treat. In June 2012 we met up to watch the Venus transit at three in the morning at Druridge Bay. Of course it poured with rain and we saw nothing. Afterwards we took ourselves of to The Trap Inn in Broomhill where we were welcomed with the best English Breakfast ever.
Northumbrians and people from The Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?:
Northumberland is a sparsely populated place and in our local communities a real sense of identity. But we’re also a border county and we’ve probably been welcoming visitors as they pass through these parts for centuries!
Coast or country, and specifically which part? The coast for me. I love walking the beaches. Sometimes you can be the only person on it as far as the eye can see. Druridge Bay is the beach I grew up near so I’ve got a special affinity for that. I used to love rock pooling on the Hadston Scaurs!
Your favourite market town and why?: I live in Morpeth – there’s always something going on in the town. There’s a nice walk along the river to be had and one of my favourite bookshops – Appleby’s – always seems to have some obscure, interesting maths and science books.
Your favourite historical site? I’ve been to Holy Island on numerous occasions throughout my life. The castle and priory are both interesting and the view across the water to Bamburgh and the Farne Islands is pretty special. If you’re going – have a look wander through lime kilns near the castle!
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: NASTRO has a star party a couple of times a year at Barrowburn in the Cheviots. The drive up through the Coquet Valley takes in some incredible views of the hills.
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland and The Scottish Borders?: A trip to Bamburgh or Holy Island with a fish and chip lunch in a local pub. As night falls I’d be off to Hauxley Observatory for a perfect view of the universe with my friends.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets