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Dark skies in the North of England to be explored at Weardale astronomy event

Other posts by  |  September 18, 2012 | 0 Comments
Night sky from Rookhope, Northumberland, by Graham Relf

Night sky from Rookhope, Northumberland, by Graham Relf

There’s a chance to ponder time, the universe and everything while enjoying the inky black night skies above Weardale at an event organised by the North Pennines AONB Partnership next month.

‘Time Matters’ on Thursday 18 October from 7pm – 9.30pm at St John’s Chapel Town Hall will feature a series of illuminating talks and some star gazing if the skies are cloud free.

Dr Pete Edwards from Durham University will be showing some dramatic film footage of the sun’s flares and sun spots projected on a giant screen. He said: “The sun is getting spotty over the next year, it’s going through its adolescence! So there is a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights in the North Pennines some time in the next 12 months.”

Local astronomer Graham Relf will be showing some of his spectacular shots of stars and constellations, many of which have been taken with an ordinary camera at his home in Rookhope. Both scientists will help to illuminate what we mean by time. Graham said: “Most of the light of these stars is millions of years old; in fact some of the starlight we can see is from stars that no longer exist.”

Lesley Silvera of the North Pennines AONB Partnership said: “The ink-black sky above the North Pennine peatlands provide the perfect backdrop for amateur and professional astronomers alike to enjoy the wonders of the night skies. This is a great opportunity for families to discover that the North Pennines is a super place to see the night sky and learn about the vastness of the time and the universe.”

The event will also see the announcement of the location of the first Dark Sky Discovery Site in the North Pennines – this is somewhere that is accessible, easy and safe to stargaze which is accredited by Edinburgh University as meeting the guidelines for Dark Sky Discovery sites. “We are aiming to establish 10 Dark Sky Discovery Sites throughout the North Pennines AONB where people can get far away from the light pollution of built-up areas to marvel at the sheer mass of stars in the night skies,” said Lesley.

The Time Matters event costs £3 per person (including refreshments) and booking is essential. Booking and payment can be done online at (click on Events in the sidebar) or by contacting the AONB Partnership office on 01388 528801. Time Matters is the last in the year of a whole series of walks, talks and events organised by the North Pennines AONB Partnership that have taken place over summer and autumn 2012.

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