Sittingbourne's floating sun successfully tested

An "artificial sun" measuring more than 65ft (20m) wide has been lifted into the sky ahead of its official launch over Kent.

Testing of the Sleepers Awake project's helium-filled sphere was initially delayed by the weather.

The Brighton artists behind the project say a successful "test flight" took place at dusk on Wednesday.

The structure is intended to create a vivid ball of light over Sittingbourne.

The artwork has been described as a "vast celestial body emitting an unworldly light".

Before the structure's official launch on Saturday extensive testing is taking place.

Image caption At its peak, the globe should be visible from 21 miles (34km) away

A spokesman for the project said the company which made the structure, hot-air balloon specialists Cameron Balloons in Bristol, believed the set-up had never been attempted before.

"The team are proceeding with extreme caution and also training the production team in balloon flight ready for the official launch," he added.

At its peak, the globe will reach a height of about 400 ft (121m) and should be visible from a distance of about 20 miles.

'Visible to thousands'

The project is part of a regeneration scheme around Milton Creek Country Park.

The 65ft (20m) wide artwork houses a lighting rig and is tethered by a steel cable to a platform floating on Milton Creek, which in turn will be towed by a barge, allowing the "night sun" to move.

Image caption The globe was brought to Sittingbourne at the weekend, a week ahead of its official launch

Brighton artists, Heather and Ivan Morison, created the project in the hope it would attract "huge numbers of night-time visitors" to the area.

They said hundreds of thousands of people would be able to see the artificial sun launched repeatedly throughout October on days to be decided by the artists, and each time it will rise higher in the sky.

As dawn breaks, the night sun will "set" below the skyline and the structure will move closer to Sittingbourne over the course of the month.

Organisers said the Civil Aviation Authority had to be notified about the launch, and local residents have been called on to guard the artwork.

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