We recently had an invite to Kielder Observatory to take part in the Introduction to Astronomy session.
The boys have always been interested in the night sky and space, so we obviously said yes.
A bit about Kielder Observatory
The aim is for everyone is to experience a moment of inspiration, wonder & hope.
Opened in 2008, the vision of the original director Gary Fildes , the observatory was opened by astronomer Sir Arnold Wolfendale. The observatory now has world class recognition as being in one of the best dark skies sites in the world. The observatory now hosts over 700 events a year from beginner sessions to more advanced sessions, there's something for everyone.
Stargazing has been on the rise in this country with more and more people taking to their gardens with a telescope. This session is absolutely perfect for anyone wanting to learn some of the basics.
About our visit
We were very lucky to visit on a day with very little cloud and lots of sunshine!
You drive along a long dirt track until you reach a car park for the observatory where you wait until you are greeted. You are taken into a room and seated, the room is not stuffy and the seats were fairly comftable. A short video is played and then Ishbel talks you through about the stars, milky way, light years etc. After you are then split into groups and taken on a tour of the site. We went to the telescopes first, the boys loved this and even got to look at Venus and the Sun! We were quite surprised at this with it being daylight, you look at the sun through the telescope which uses a special filter allowing you to look at it.
Ellie showed the boys on the computer how to set the telescope to see something in the sky and she was great at answering any questions that were thrown at her. We then headed off with Adam who took us into another room and chatted about the stars and the starsigns, and he even explained how most starsigns are wrong. So we searched for our birthdates and discovered what our actual starsigns should be. After the tour you then head back into the original room where Dan was waiting for us, he chatted about space rock and photography and it was really interesting to learn about some of the meteors. We loved his photo of the fireball heading to France! How lucky was he to get that! We also got to handle some of the space rocks and stand on Mars!
Honestly, we had a really great afternoon and enjoyed the session.
Really interesting to find out about our amazing sky and planet.
I have to say that ( I hope I get the names correct) Ellie, Ishbel, Dan and Adam were our guides and they all did a fantastic job and were very knowledgeable. Ellie even took some pictures with my phone through the telescope and got some great photographs of the sun and Venus! I also snapped a picture of some free resources you can use.
I would say this sessions is better for kids 11+ Elliot is 11, does have an understanding of basic astronomy but I do feel some of it may be a slightly too advanced for some of the younger kids. You know your child so obviously you are better at making that decision. 100% worth the money to and we highly recommend.
Small gift shop on site selling astronomy related items, coffee, cold drinks and they accept card payments. There's also a toilet on site and a few spaces to sit and enjoy the view. Please note that you are only allowed on site if you have a session booked, you can not just turn up and wander about.
For more info on the Intro to Astronomy sessions. click HERE
Other sessions are available to book and include:
Space Kids - Light Year Academy
Space Kids - Rockets & More
Space Kids - Solar Quest
Origins of the universe
Discovering New Worlds
And lots more. To find out or to book any of these sessions please click HERE