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Stars in your eyes at Kielder

Other posts by  |  Steve Smith on Google+ |  October 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

Stargazers will be holding a public viewing event in dark Kielder Forest on October 22

A mass gathering of astronomers from across the UK will descend on Northumberland this October.

The over-subscribed Ninth Kielder Forest Star Camp takes place during half-term week and will see more than 150 people gather at one of England’s remotest villages on the England-Scotland border for a star-gazing marathon.

The camp between October 26-30 will come just days after the Forestry Commission holds its own annual Nightwatch event in the Kielder Water and Forest Park, which this year is inviting participants to take a 400 million-mile journey for a close-up look at Jupiter.

Kielder boasts the darkest skies in England and is the perfect place for star gazing with 250 square miles of trees, northern Europe’s largest manmade lake and a clear view of the heavens.

The sky shimmers with thousands more stars than you would see in a major town or city where light pollution ruins the free astronomical show.

Nightwatch is a chance to enjoy the dark skies of early autumn and pick out our planetary neighbours, such as Jupiter which will be revealed in all its glory complete with moons and turbulent atmosphere thanks to a powerful telescope from Sunderland Astronomical Society.

Also on show will be the glow of other galaxies and just a few of the brightest stars in the Milky Way.

The event on October 22 will also coincide with shooting stars from the Orionid meteor shower.

Participants will have the use of Sunderland Astronomical Society’s telescope, but organisers say binoculars will work just as well.

Graham Dark, from Sunderland Astronomical Society, said: “Eyes will be peeled for shooting stars from the Orionid meteor shower – dusty debris from Halley’s Comet burning up in the atmosphere – which peaks the previous night.

“October is a fabulous month for viewing with the Milky Way overhead and winter’s constellations beginning to rise.”

The event starts at Kielder Castle Visitor Centre at 7pm and costs £6 for adults, £5 for concessions and £16 for a family of four. Participants are advised to dress in warm clothing, sturdy footwear and bring along a torch.

Booking is essential on 01434 220 242.

The Ninth Kielder Forest Star Camp offers five nights at this dark sky oasis. Organised by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, visitors are welcome to the free to attend main day on October 29 at Kielder Castle between 11am-4.30pm.

Go to kielderobservatory.org  for further details.

For more information on the Forestry Commission’s Nightwatch event on October 22, go to forestry.gov.uk/NorthEastEngland

Moon and Jupiter from the Kielder Spring Star Camp in March 2011 © Mike Dickson/Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society

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