TRIBUTES have been paid after the patron of one of Northumberland’s most popular tourist attractions died at the age of 93.

Sir Arnold Wolfendale was a legendary British astronomer who was known locally as the patron of Kielder Observatory.

He also served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995, and was the Emeritus Professor of Physics at Durham University.

Throughout a long career, he was also the president of the European Physical Society from 1999-2001 and the President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1981-1983.

The observatory paid tribute to Sir Arnold following his death on December 23.

A statement read: “We are very sad to say that our patron, Sir Arnold Wolfendale, has passed away at the age of 93.

“His achievements in astronomy are legendary – Astronomer Royal, knighted in 1995, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the Royal Society, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics at Durham University, Professor of Experimental Physics with the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and many others.

“Sir Arnold was a gentleman through and through, with an extraordinary commitment to outreach and inspiring people with the wonders of science – we were proud and honoured to have him as our patron.”

Sir Arnold was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1927, but his family moved to Lancashire when he was 18 months old. After attending Stretford Grammar School in Manchester, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Manchester in 1948.

He followed this up with a PhD in 1953 and became a Doctor of Science in 1970.

During his career, he held academic posts at the University of Manchester from 1951-1956 and Durham University from 1956 -1992, when he retired. Three years later, in 1995, he received a knighthood from the Queen.

He married Audrey Darby in 1951 and they had twin sons, but she died in 2007.

In 2015, he married anthropologist and fellow Durham University star Dorothy Middleton, at Durham Cathedral.

Between them, they had collectively accumulated more than 100 years of academic study and research, with Dr Middleton’s connections with the university going back to the early 1960s.

A lecture theatre in Durham University’s new Calman Learning Centre has been named in his honour.