A New Thing Every Month – February: Kielder Observatory

This year me and t’other half are doing something we’ve not done before, each month. February, was heading to Kielder Observatory.

Getting There

We set off earlier so we could spend some time in Kielder. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a National Park with acres of forest, a reservoir, a castle and other exciting things! We actually cycled around it last year if you’re interested.

So we had a walk and got some images (footage in my partner’s case) and generally had a very nice afternoon; the weather was great and the scenery is beautiful!

 

Before Our Stargazing Experience

We were meeting up with friends before the event so we decided to scope out the road to the observatory beforehand and also get some images while it was still daylight – I wanted to blog about it so I knew I’d need a picture of the place in question.

We got to the top of the road, parked and popped out with our cameras.

kielder-observatory

It was a stunning evening. Unfortunately here’s where my first experience of the observatory was slightly marred. There were two guys in hi-vis jackets working to the left of the observatory (I’ve edited them out of the picture) and unfortunately one of them seemed to be unaware of how sound can travel, as he said incredibly clearly to his co-worker (later discovered it was his boss!) ‘Ah’ll just gan and tell these to fuck off’. If you’re not familiar with our delightful north east twang, then translated, it means he was about to ask us (impolitely) to leave.

As he approached, my partner said there was no need to tell us to eff off as we were booked in later and were just checking out how to get up there prior to the event but that we were going now anyway. The guy (I won’t name him to save his embarrassment) got rather flustered that we’d heard him and assured us he wasn’t talking about us. Quite funny really, there was nobody else about and he’d walked over to us. Not a great first impression.

Star Gazing at Kielder Observatory

We’d chosen Orion night and thankfully we had a crystal clear night where the stars were visible. We were taken in groups to observe the night sky through 3 different telescopes and told about what we were looking at. I’d expected looking through the ‘scopes to be the best bit, but it actually wasn’t that exciting – this is due to my ignorance rather than any fault of the event! Like many people, I’d expected to be able to see the stars much closer up, but that’s not really how things work -something we learned on the night – fair enough!

I love Orion, it’s the one constellation I always seek out in the sky and this time of year is the best time to see it so it was fantastic to learn all about it and have the different stars explained. It was also great to see the Orion Nebula through the telescope too; it looked like a small blue hazy patch!

The information we were given about the stars/planets/galaxy was really interesting though and as Kielder is a protected dark space, seeing the stars so clearly was amazing. After some telescope time, we were herded back inside to get warm and have a hot drink and this was followed by a thoroughly interesting lecture on Orion by Hayden. Hayden’s enthusiasm and passion really shone through and even though a lot of the maths and science was beyond me, he explained things in a way we could all grasp and answered a ton of questions afterwards.

Final Verdict and Where are the Star Pictures??

I loved our experience at Kielder Observatory and I think it was well worth the (roughly) £18 ticket price for three hours. I’d have loved to get some photography while we were up there but as everyone left after Hayden’s lecture then the constant shining of car head-lights meant it wasn’t really possible. I’ll be looking to get back up there soon and get some though, as long as we aren’t chased away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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