New facilities at Northumberland observatory set to open up the night sky to thousands of children

A major new radio astronomy facility will be established at Kielder Observatory thanks to funding from Northumberland County Council.

By Ian Smith
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 1:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 1:11 pm
Facilities are to be improved at Kielder Observatory.
Facilities are to be improved at Kielder Observatory.

The state-of-the-art radio astronomy telescope will allow Kielder to carry out worldwide scientific research, attract university research into Northumberland and develop its remote outreach activities.

A total of £24,596 of capital funding was approved for the project at a county council cabinet meeting, with further funding coming from the Tanlaw Foundation and the Observatory.

The funding will allow the upgrade of the observatory site so people can access it remotely, enabling many more people to be able to use the telescope than would otherwise be possible and helping to spread the knowledge of astronomy and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In the first three years of the project 10,000 school children across Northumberland are expected to be able to access the technology remotely.

will be able to access educational programmes on subjects such as astronomy, data science and astrobiology, without having to leave the classroom.

Originally opened in 2008 to host a few events a year for a few hundred people, Kielder Observatory is now open 360 days a year, hosting 730 events and welcoming over 20,000 people, and working in schools to inspire and educate students.

Cllr Richard Wearmouth, the council’s member for business and tourism, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this hugely significant project.

“It will not only open up the wonders of Kielder Observatory to a wider audience but will also help to inspire the next generation of stargazers. It is yet another example of Northumberland leading the way in technology and innovation for the benefit of all.”

Catherine Johns, CEO of Kielder Observatory said: “This funding is critical to achieving our aims and the aims of the Tanlaw Foundation, which wants to inspire people about the wonders of radio astronomy and democratise access to radio telescopes so anyone can contribute to citizen science projects and academic research. We are hugely grateful to Northumberland County Council for their unwavering support of Kielder Observatory.”

To find out more about the project go to

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. With a digital subscription you get access to the ad-lite version of our website, meaning you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times and get all of the headlines you need with fewer distractions. The Northumberland Gazette has been serving the county since 1854, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.