£50,000 boost for second Kielder observatory

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A £50,000 funding boost will help complete a second observatory for Kielder, which is due to open its doors early next year.

The new £250,000 observatory will add to the established reputation of Kielder Observatory as the UK’s number one stargazing haven.

The £50,000 funding from the Gillian Dickinson Trust, a North East-based trust offering support to small charities, will bring the funds up to the final amount required for the project.

This follows other major grants totalling nearly £207,000, received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rural Development Programme for England: LEADER funding, Northumbria Water and Northumberland County Council.

The new observatory, which will be in the protected Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, will be fully accessible with a single-storey building housing a fully automated telescope with retractable roof, presentation room, kitchen and toilets.

There will also be an external observation area.

Kielder Observatory’s founder and lead astronomer Gary Fildes said: “The new observatory will be used as an addition to the existing visitor experience.

“Using high-tech research grade instruments and tracking mounts, the facility will be research-ready and will be able to be used by professional astronomers. The aim will be to use the technology to spot distant planets around far away stars, known as EXO-planets, do supernova searches and plot asteroids.

“It will enable the science team to provide even more resources to the community who visit us. Our aim is to enthuse, educate and inspire all of our visitors and with the support of our partners across this wonderful region we will continue to excel.”

James Ramsbotham, trustee of the Gillian Dickinson Trust, said: “The trust is delighted to be able to support the Kielder Observatory as it works to inspire young people from across the North East with the beauty and science of the heavens.”

Kielder Observatory’s five-year plan involves building an Astronomy Village.

At an estimated cost of £15m, it will feature an 80-seat planetarium and a specially-built telescope with a one-metre wide diameter.

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