Tyne & Wear

Kielder Forest observatory creates 'astronomical village'

Observatory Image copyright Kielder Observatory
Image caption The new observatory will be built next to an existing one

An observatory deep in a Northumberland forest is planned as the next step in creating an "astronomical village".

The facility, next to an existing one at Kielder, will house an automated telescope with retractable roof and a presentation room.

It aims to attract more educational and community groups to add to the current 23,000 annual visitors.

The £200,000 cost has been funded by grants from the National Lottery, Defra and the EU.

Image copyright Kielder Observatory
Image caption More stargazers will be able to enjoy the night skies

Work is due to get under way in the next few weeks and it is expected to open its doors to the public in the autumn.

A spokesman for the observatory said it was the next stage in "realising the ambition to develop an astronomical village, which would be a first for the UK".

In 2013 Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park were granted dark-sky status by The International Dark Skies Association.

The status means the night sky is protected and lighting controls are in place to prevent light pollution.

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