Plans for new facility at Northumberland observatory

Kielder Observatory
Kielder Observatory

Plans have been lodged for a new planetarium and observation deck at Kielder Observatory.

The application, which has been submitted to the county council, explains that the planetarium would provide something to do for visitors during the day or on cloudy, poor-visibility nights.

The attraction’s popularity has soared since it opened in 2008 and last year a second observatory was opened to help meet demand, but while these provide the opportunity for stargazing at night, the planetarium would widen the offer.

The new building, with a diameter of seven metres and a floor space of 45m² would be sited on the location of the existing viewing deck but set at the lower ground level.

This means the planetarium’s three-and-a-half-metre-high dome on top of a 1.1m plinth would be at the same level as the barrel vault roof of the observatory.

There would be a curved ramp from the planetarium to the new 75m² observation deck.

Kielder Observatory is a public outreach astronomical facility in Kielder Forest, part of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.

The site, just a few miles from the Scottish border high upon Black Fell, was chosen as one of the locations in the UK which has the least amount of intrusive light pollution.

The primary function of the observatory is outreach via public events, with the aim of bringing in members of the public of all ages from primary schoolchildren upwards.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service