Kielder Observatory

Kielder Observatory

We want everyone to experience moments of inspiration, wonder and hope through observing the cosmos. A clear sky at Kielder is special: a reminder how lucky we are to be alive on this tiny little planet near one of the billions of stars in one of the billions of galaxies; the Kielder moment can transform people.


Nestled deep in Kielder forest in Northumberland, Kielder Observatory runs educational events for the public to come and experience astronomy first-hand. Book a private event for your group and our experienced science communicators will take you on a tour of the universe, covering topics of your choice linked to the national curriculum with fantastic visuals. We run a busy outreach programme with schools across the North East, so our astronomers know how to engage all ages in learning about science and space.

Every event includes a full tour of the observatory buildings and we’ll show you all our equipment and explain how it all works, delving in to optics and the science of the electromagnetic spectrum. There are different activities you can book suitable for different ages, from KS2 up and of course we can run engaging events for adults. Our astronomers can cover the content for the Scout Astronomy badge, or for older students our resident astro-physicists are happy to delve in to cosmology and more advanced topics.

During your visit you can get hands-on with stargazing apps with plenty guidance on how to do astronomy at home and learn the importance of limiting light pollution and conservation of dark skies for future generations. Do exciting activities such as launching bottle rockets, making UV bead bracelets. Touch real space rocks that are billions of years old and examine them under a microscope or tickle a piece of the Moon and “stand on Mars” with a real piece of Martian rock! If the skies are clear everyone gets the chance to put their eye to the eyepiece of one of our large 14” aperture telescopes to find sunspots or, if you visit in winter, to explore the darkest skies in England. Winter skies allow late afternoon observing of the constellations, the Milky Way, satellites, star clusters, binary stars, the planets and much more. Making observations does depend on the weather so we’ll always have a plan of activities to complete indoors.

We are flexible for running private events most days of the week, either during the day or in the 5-7pm time slot for up to 36 guests in total. Or, for the full observatory experience with best opportunity for stargazing, you can choose to book the main evening slot 8-11pm where availability allows – we are very popular so advance booking is essential! We have a small gift shop on site selling merchandise and pocket money items, and can serve hot drinks including our famous hot chocolate. The site is accessible to large coaches, the observatory is all level or ramped for accessibility expect for one turret which has six steps. We have composting loos on site and our power is mainly generated by a wind turbine, all part of our aim for sustainable activity.

We also have experience adapting our programme for neurodivergent visitors, children at risk of exclusion and other groups that need a bespoke approach, so whatever your hope to get from a visit, please get in touch with our office and we’ll let you know what we can do.

About the wider area – high up on Black Fell our location is surrounded by nature and just arriving onsite feels like an adventure in itself – Kielder is home to England’s largest forest and the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Kielder is part of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park which was awarded Gold Tier status for the lack of light pollution, and you can really get a sense of remote wildness when you visit. The wider park area offers brilliant facilities for cycling, camping, bird hides and an Art and Architecture trail which the main building of the observatory forms part of. Accommodation for groups can be provided by Calvert Kielder, Hawkhirst Scout Centre, Tarset Bunkhouse and the various campsites in the valley.

Facilities

Accessibility

Disabled Access, Guide Dogs Welcome, On Site Parking

Groups

Risk Assessment Available,

Attraction

Shop, Toilets,

Other

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    Opening Hours

    Throughout the year; evening slots are popular and are booked further in advance

    Pricing

    Please contact office to book a private event

    Address

    Black Fell, off Shilling Pot, Kielder, Northumberland NE48 1EJ

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