Discover a Dark Sky
A night in Northumberland offers spectacular stargazing
After an action-packed day exploring the wonders of Northumberland, you could be forgiven for wanting an early night, but as the sun sets, the vast dark skies provide even more entertainment for you and your family.
Fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite pastimes, we have a host of properties available with on-site telescopes or located in remote areas with little light pollution, the ideal characteristics for observing the night sky.
Spurred on by the BBC’s Stargazing Live, for those who want to improve on their knowledge of astronomy, or who feel unsure about where to start, now is the perfect time to renew your interest. There are several astronomical events taking place before the end of the year and for those planning on viewing the night sky, we’ve put together some simple and easy tips on what to look out for and what to take with you when trying to find an ideal spot for stargazing.
- Find dark skies and clear horizons – try to get as far away as possible from the glare of streetlights and the glow of large urban areas. Make sure you get a good view in all directions, as you might want to see a planet as it sets in the west, a galaxy as it rises in the east, or a nebula at its highest point due south.
- Wrap up warm – a hat, gloves, scarf, sensible shoes and warm clothing are all recommended when stargazing in the UK.
- Bring a torch – preferably with a red filter on it (cellophane wrapped onto a normal torch is fine) to help you find your way around without ruining your night vision.
- Find somewhere safe to observe – a flat, even area of land to avoid stumbles as you move about in the dark, away from cars and traffic.
- Use a telescope or binoculars – If you are able to use a telescope to view the sky, or even a small pair of binoculars, you can get a great view of the Moon and explore the sky in more detail.
Stargazing events for 2016
Uranus at Opposition, 15th October 2016
In certain parts of the UK, Uranus will be visible on the night of 15th from 20.21pm until 5.10am on 16th October.
Orionid meteor shower, 21-22nd October 2016
The shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on the evening of 21st October. Around 25 meteors per hour are expected to be visible from a dark location.
Geminid meteor shower, 13-14th December 2016
Considered to be one of the best meteor showers, on the night of 13th December the Geminid will reach peak activity. Expect around 100 meteors per hour, although a supermoon on the 14th could make star-gazing tricky. However, that itself offers a great opportunity to get a close look at the Moon’s surface, spotting its famous craters and mountains.
And if you want to have a true Dark Sky experience whilst staying in Northumberland, make sure you visit the Kielder Observatory, situated in the heart of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park (Europe’s largest area of protected night sky) and one of the best places in the country to stargaze.
The award-winning wooden-framed design of the observatory fits in perfectly with its forest surroundings and is home to a number of events including family-orientated talks and classes.
While a visit during autumn and winter is traditionally considered the optimum time to witness the dark sky at its best, there are things to see all year around, so check the website for any activity taking place during your break. On a clear night you can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way and even the Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light years away with the naked eye.
Properties near the Observatory (could these be on a carousel?)
And if you want to get closer to the stars from the comfort of your own home…
Castle Farm Cottage, Alnham near Rothbury, Rothbury & Coquetdale Area
Castle Farm Cottage is an attractive single-storey wing of Castle Farm within the picture perfect hamlet of Alnham. Converted to an excellent standard the accommodation is mainly on one level. The living/dining/kitchen space is open plan with large hemmel windows to enhance its bright and airy ambience.
Enjoying a tranquil, rural position and surrounded by stunning countryside, this is an idyllic spot to rest and refresh. Located within the "International Dark Sky Park", the property is a fantastic place to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower, track satellites, especially the International Space Station and look at the planets of our own solar system. The owners are happy to provide specialist equipment, including an astronomical telescope, high magnification binoculars and star charts. They will also, if you wish, give you a beginner’s guide to the equipment and the brilliant skies above their garden.
Waterside, Beadnell, Beadnell & Seahouses Area
Property ref: CC314043
Located a mere 300 yards from the wide expansive sweep of glorious golden sands at Beadnell Bay, Waterside is a modern detached property offering bright and contemporary holiday accommodation in a highly sought after coastal village. With a comfortable lounge for adults to relax in, complete with telescope for stargazing, and a separate play room for children to chill out in, Waterside is the perfect family seaside retreat. The contemporary dining kitchen also has an additional seating area with patio doors allowing the daylight to flood in.