Did you know that the skies above Kielder Forest and Northumberland National Park are said to be the darkest in England? In fact, they are now Europe's largest Dark Sky Park thanks to their special 'dark sky' status which has been awarded by the International Dark Skies Association.
About 85% of the population have never seen a truly dark sky. Now that the night's are getting darker, why not make the most of it and enjoy the fabulous dark skies we have right on our doorstep. I can't imagine anything more magical and inspiring than experiencing the wonder of our universe with your family. It doesn't even need to cost anything, just wrap up warm, pack a hot drink and binoculars and head out to the country to experience this amazing show for yourself. Download the best sark sky viewing sites here.
After your family adventure you may want to learn more about the skies above. Check out these inexpensive dark sky discovery events (£5 per adult - under 16's free) in the North Pennines. Star gazing for beginners sounds perfect to me.
Kielder Observatory also runs a programme of events throughout the year. Their family astronomy evenings normally take place on a Saturday night at 5pm. These popular events must be pre-booked and usually sell out. They include a guided tour of the observatory, an introduction into using powerful telescopes and a tour of the planets, galaxies and stars in the skies above. All aimed towards the whole family and demonstrating that anybody can be an astronomer. Certainly beats a night in front of X factor!
Several sites in Northumberland have put together some wonderful stargazing short breaks which can be enjoyed by the whole family. My kids loved staying in the wigwams at Herding Hill farm and I'm really pleased to see they are one of the locations offering special stargazing short breaks. How exciting would it be having the chance to spot a few shooting stars followed by a night in a wigwam. Certainly a different type of break but definitely one you would remember.
You can win your very own dark skies mini break for two courtesy of Visit Northumberland. The prize includes 2 nights bed and breakfast for two at Battlesteads hotel which is perfectly located to enjoy the dark skies above and two tickets for a stargazing event at Kielder Observatory. The competition closes on 30/11/14. It takes two minutes to enter and really is a wonderful prize. Good luck!
Click here to learn more about Northumberland's dark skies. I would love to see your pictures or hear your comments if you and your family have enjoyed our dark skies.
Photograph's courtesy of Visit Northumberland.