The award-winning Kielder Observatory will mark its 10th anniversary today with the opening of a new stargazing facility.
The £250,000 Gillian Dickinson Astroimaging Academy, which sits alongside the existing Kielder Observatory, will be the new home for the observatory’s education and outreach work, which aims to give children and young people the chance to experience the wonder of the universe.
Alexander Dickinson, trustee of the Gillian Dickinson Trust, will officially open the academy with a plaque unveiling.
The academy features fully-automated telescopes, a retractable roof and presentation room. As well as hosting educational and community events, its high-tech research grade instruments and tracking mounts will allow professional astronomers to spot distant planets around far away stars, conduct supernova searches and plot asteroids.
Gary Fildes, founder and CEO of Kielder Observatory, said: “Our vision for Kielder Observatory when we opened was to let people experience the magic of our universe. Ten years on, we’ve welcomed more than 80,000 people to the observatory and I’m delighted we’re opening a second facility that will mean more people can enjoy the beauty of the night sky.
“The new observatory will be dedicated to teaching, learning and research. We want to enthuse the next generation about astronomy and let them see, first hand, the amazing world around them.
“In an age where many of us are looking down at computers, phones and games consoles, this is a chance to look up and marvel at the universe.”
The new observatory has been funded by the Gillian Dickinson Trust, National Lottery Funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund, LEADER funding, Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council.
Mr Dickinson said: “Kielder Observatory is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK and the introduction of the new observatory is a wonderful way to celebrate its 10th anniversary. We’re delighted to support the project and the fantastic work of Kielder Observatory.”