Kielder Observatory

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Kielder Observatory
Kielder Observatory - - 1219650.jpg
Kielder Observatory
Organization Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society
Location Kielder Forest, Northumberland, England
Coordinates 55°13′55″N 2°36′58.5″W / 55.23194°N 2.616250°W / 55.23194; -2.616250
Altitude 370 m (1,214 ft)
Established 2008
Website Kielder Observatory
16 inch RC 16 inch TS Optics f/8 Ritchey-Chretien Reflector
16 inch Meade 16 inch ACF telescope
12 inch Dobsonian 12 inch Skywatcher Skyliner 300P Dobsonian
Kielder Observatory is located in the United Kingdom
Kielder Observatory
Location of Kielder Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Kielder Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, England. It is situated high upon Black Fell overlooking Kielder Water near the Scottish border, and half a mile up a forest track from James Turrell's Kielder Skyspace. The site was chosen due to its pristine night skies in a location free of light pollution [1] with clear views to all horizons, and is one of the best places in the UK to view the Milky Way.[2]

Open 7 days per week the primary function of the observatory is outreach. It plays host to numerous public events all which are accessible to all members of the public no matter their experience or prior knowledge. Each event consists of a themed presentation, tour of the observatory and tuition on using the telescopes by experienced astronomers. Should the skies be clear visitors are encouraged to make observations using the large-aperture instruments of fascinating astronomically-distant objects such as galaxies and nebulae as well as those closer to Earth including planets, the Moon and comets—a chance for everyone to engage in the Universe around them.

Sir Arnold Wolfendale, 14th Astronomer Royal, opening the Observatory

The observatory was officially opened on the 25 April 2008 by Sir Arnold Wolfendale 14th Astronomer Royal [3] and in its first year entertained approximately 1200 guests with numbers growing "astronomically" in 2014 nearing 20,000 visitors, thus making it one of the top tourist destinations in Northumberland.

The design of the observatory is in keeping with the ethos of the forest, not only in style but also being environmentally friendly—powered by solar panels and a wind turbine. This design is the result of a competition managed by RIBA Competitions which was won by London based Charles Barclay Architects.[4] It won the RIBA Award [5] for its architecture in 2009 and also that same year a Civic Trust Award.[6]

The observatory is administered by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, a registered charity and comprising a board of Trustees, several permanent members of staff and a large group of enthusiastic volunteers all of whom help run the public events hosted at the facility.


2015 - Gold winner; North east tourism awards; Best small visitor attraction

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Observatory boasts darkest skies". BBC Online. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Henderson, Tony (18 February 2012). "Kielder named top place to view the Milky Way". The Journal. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "From Big Bang to the night sky in winter..." Hexham Courant. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Kielder Observatory History". Archived from the original on 2014-11-02. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  5. ^ "RIBA award". Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  6. ^ "Kielder Observatory scoops major award". News Post Leader. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2012.