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Everything posted by Dixie

  1. Dave The Dukes Pantry at Kielder Castle now offers FREE Wi-Fi. Works for me fine. cheers Richard
  2. Kielder Forest Star Camp is now full. But the Main Day on 13 October (trade stands/talks) is free to all comers! Takes place at Kielder Castle, Northumberland, from 11am to 4.30pm. Many thanks for your continued support. You can see a images from the Spring event here: http://bit.ly/TdLhjg Richard
  3. Yes I think Elf Kirk is the best bet - clearly signed off the C200 and nicely elevated above the mist, but with good shielding from the wind.
  4. A key selling point about this dark sky bid is that Kielder and Northumberland National Park have joined together to create a much larger area of protected night sky - I think that's a world first. Richard
  5. That's a thought Ian. If we get a profusion of dark skies areas in the UK perhaps it will influence urban authorities to look at their own skyglow. Find it hard to believe there's not massive scope to cut energy costs here and give us the stars back. Richard
  6. Thought this might be of interest. Cheers, Richard KIELDER WATER & FOREST DEVELOPMENT TRUST NORTHUMBERLAND NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY PRESS NOTICE To: News Desk 24 May 2012 MOVE TO CREATE EUROPE’S LARGEST DARK SKY PRESERVE IN NORTHUMBERLAND It’s not just in Texas where the stars at night shine deep and bright. Exciting moves have been revealed to create what would be the third largest area of protected starry dark sky in the world in deepest Northumberland. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland National Park Authority are consulting on securing dark sky status for nearly 400 square miles of spectacular countryside in England's wildest county. The prestigious designation is awarded by the International Dark Skies Association (IDA), based in Tucson, USA. Worldwide there are just 12 such preserves, including the two largest in Big Bend National Park, Texas, and Mount Megantic in Quebec, Canada. Project chiefs are in talks with residents, parish councils and businesses to explain the proposals and gauge feedback before any application is made. If successful, Kielder Water & Forest Park would become England’s first Dark Sky Park, while adjoining Northumberland National Park would be Europe’s largest Dark Sky Reserve – both committed to reducing light pollution and engaging the public about our dark skies. But what would it mean for local people and businesses? Elisabeth Rowark, Director of the Kielder Water & Development Trust, explained: “Northumberland is a magical place both by night and day. Dark Sky status would allow us to protect, cherish and promote our natural nightscapes. But gaining public support is the key. We are already benefiting from dark sky tourism in the shape of the successful £450,000 Kielder Observatory, which has drawn 30,000 people since opening in 2008. Star camps also attract hundreds of observers every year. “It's crucial to understand that Dark Sky status does not mean turning lights off. Rather it is about working with people and Northumberland County Council to create better and less wasteful lighting and promoting the night sky as an asset for the region.” Northumberland has more dark skies than anywhere else in England, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).** The Milky Way stretches from horizon-to-horizon, while galaxies millions of light years away are naked eye objects. But such breath-taking views are becoming a rarity. Light pollution means that over 85% of the UK’s population has never seen a truly dark sky. Even Northumberland is not immune. Between 1993 and 2000 the North East's area of dark skies shrank by nearly 30%. Since then the spread of light pollution has continued. But it is not too late. Duncan Wise, who is leading the Dark Sky Reserve Project for the Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Dark Sky status will help us protect the quality of the night sky. With public support we believe we can make this happen. It will be a spur to sustainable tourism, help cut energy costs and benefit nocturnal wildlife.” Since the start of the year Forestry Commission wildlife rangers, stargazers from Kielder Observatory and Newcastle astronomical societies, National Park Rangers and volunteers have taken hundreds of light metre readings across the proposed dark sky area on clear moonless nights. Readings confirm that the North East retains some of England’s darkest skies. The National Park Authority has written to all National Park residents explaining the process and inviting comments on a proposed core zone to be protected from light pollution in the darkest part of the park. Meetings with parish councils are also being held. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust will also write to Kielder residents seeking their views on the plans, following discussions with Kielder Parish Council. Byrness and Rochester and Stonehaugh Parish Councils are supporting the plans, as are many local businesses. Open Nights for local people have also been staged by Kielder Observatory to express its keen commitment for the move. Duncan Wise added: “We want to build a consensus and shape our plans with the public. But what a fantastic opportunity we have to protect our cherished skies. No one benefits from poor lighting. It takes away the beauty of the night sky, often disturbs sleep patterns and can have a negative impact on our wildlife. By acting now we can protect the special quality of the National Park that is valued by residents and visitors alike for future generations to enjoy.” Tell us what you think. Kielder Water & Forest Park Post your views on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kielder/app_202980683107053 or www.facebook.com/kielder or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/visitkielder Go to the website www.visitkielder.com to find out more or email info@visitkielder.com Northumberland National Park Twitter at @northumberlndNP or visit www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk and go to the Facebook page. Alternatively email enquiries@nnpa.org.uk Note to Editor 1. Quotes. Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission England Chair, said: “I really hope Kielder Forest and the surrounding area can secure this fantastic international honour. Woodlands and forests are great places to appreciate nature in the daytime and as night falls and the stars begin to appear, being away from lights makes them a more vivid and spectacular sight. The wonderful remoteness of Kielder Water & Forest Park has meant we have been able to encourage people to gaze at the stars there for nearly 15 years.” Joyce Taylor, Chair of Byrness Parish Council, said: “We want better and less intrusive street lighting. The fixtures we currently have are old and spill light straight into peoples’ bedrooms. Dark sky status will help us retain the rural and tranquil character of our community. It will also help put us on the map for travellers for whom a starry night creates such vivid memories.” Anne Hutchinson, Chair of Wark Parish Council, said: “People don’t want to see light pollution, whether it is from poor street lights or inappropriate external lights. It’s not in keeping with the character of the area. My son lives in London and every time he returns on a clear night he stands at the entrance to our farm to marvel at the stars. For him and many other people it’s all part of the special quality of living in the Stonehaugh area.” John Wilson, who owns Whitelee Farm, near Carter Bar in the Northumberland National Park, said: “We’ve got three holiday cottages and such has been the growth in interest in stargazing that we now put binoculars and star charts in the rooms for guests. The National Park has taken light metre readings on the farm which confirms what we can see with our naked eye - that we have glorious dark skies which are a major draw to visitors. Getting dark sky status would be a great way of promoting tourism, as well as preserving something very special about our landscape." 2. What are designated dark sky areas? Dark Sky areas are parks or other public land with exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitats where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resource. Dark Sky Parks usually have one or a small number of land owners with lighting control over the area. Dark Sky Reserves have a large number of owners and have a dark core surrounded by buffer areas where partners are keen to engage with the dark skies promotion. What do we need to do? To attain Dark Sky Park and Dark Sky Reserve status it is necessary to demonstrate a commitment to minimising light pollution. The application process requires an audit to be carried out of all outside lights in Kielder Water & Forest Park and the proposed darkest core zone of the Northumberland National Park Dark Sky Reserve over the next few months. This is to provide evidence to the IDA of the percentage of external light units that are already compliant, ie that are low wattage, or are installed correctly with no wasted light being emitted upwards into the night sky. We may already be dark sky friendly, but we won’t know until we have completed the audit. A Lighting Management Plan is also required for both the Dark Sky Park and Reserve. This will ensure that new lighting is both night sky friendly and designed to provide good and effective lighting where it is required. 3. International Dark Sky Association The IDA is the leading organisation combating light pollution worldwide. The IDA awards the designations of ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ or Dark Sky Park’ to those wilder places that demonstrate an ability to conserve the dark skies above them and are committed to providing opportunities for the public to enjoy them. 4. Dark Sky Park status for Galloway Forest Park in South West Scotland has created economic spin offs for local business. A new survey of 35 businesses, including guest houses, bed and breakfasts, hotels and self-catering properties, revealed that 77% reported an impact on the number of bed nights as a result of the Dark Sky Park. Tourism chiefs believe Northumberland can repeat and advance on this success. 5. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working to develop the Park as an inspirational place. It aims to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability, provide public recreation and leisure facilities, facilitate education in all aspects of the natural environment and advance art and architecture in the Park. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities. Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils. 6. Northumberland National Park encompasses the landscape and cultural heritage of 405 square miles (105,000 hectares) - over a fifth of Northumberland from Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish border, and adjoins Kielder Water & Forest Park along its western boundary. With the help of our dedicated volunteers the National Park Authority looks after more than 1100 kms of Rights of Way - including two national trails and a number of long distance walking, cycling and horse riding trails, and the central, most visited section of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. 32 Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering over 10,000 hectares, one Ramsar Site; three National Nature Reserves and 6 European Special Areas of Conservation fall within the boundary of the National Park. We are also home to one of the country’s official Dark Sky Discovery Sites (Cawfields) and are part of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership. We work with farmers and landowners to maintain healthy soils, clean water and dark skies, to enhance wildlife habitats and help rural businesses adapt to climate change. We are supporting sustainable enterprises, transport and green tourism and encouraging domestic and community-scale renewable energy. We have also invested in a network of electric vehicle charging points at keys places in the National Park and along Hadrian’s Wall as part of a network installed around the North East. www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk. **CPRE: Night Blight Report. For a PDF go to www.cpre.org.uk Media calls: Kielder Water and Forest Park Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038 Philippa Clark on 0191 301 5538 Northumberland National Park Frances Whitehead or Duncan Wise on 01434 605555
  7. All electric hook ups and hard standings have now gone for the 10th Kielder Forest Star Camp. Non-electric pitches remain. Clear skies, Richard
  8. Lynn and Kevin look after the bookings for this one so keep tuned. Totally unofficially the dark sky slot next March looks like 6 - 10 March so I'd imagine these would be the dates. Richard
  9. Mike Posted a few pix of the spring event at ..... Picasa Web Albums - Richard Darn For once I don't think I snapped you! The mean looking 6 inch Atlux was the star - really god planetary views from an incredibly rare scope. Richard
  10. Yes, not bad. It's a wee car park inside a circular earthen mound but horizons are ok. Not hemmed in by trees. richard
  11. Elf Kirk viewpoint - just west after the dam off the C200. Elevated, good horizons and also shielded from wind. Good spot. Richard
  12. Bookings are now open for this event which takes place from 10 - 15 October 2012 in the dark Borders between England and Scotland. This is the tenth anniversary - hard to believe! The main day will be Saturday 13 October at Kielder Castle and is free. We'll have talks and vendors, including Green Witch, Ian King, Astronomica and a few more besides. If you want electrics and hard standings please book early. More info and booking instructions at Kielder Forest Star Camp Clear Skies. Richard Starcamp picture gallery: http://bit.ly/rgjnwF Image attached: Milky Way and Jupiter by Mike Dickson, Oct 2011 Kielder.
  13. Well it looks promising - I've got a C14 looking for a snug home and the EQ8 could be the one. Had a good experience with the NEQ6, so despite it being a new product, I am irrationally hopeful. Richard
  14. The observatory is behind barriers, Elf Kirk isn't. It's just a mile or so after the Kielder Dam travelling North West and signed from the C200 (very good road). Best observing spot. Richard
  15. Nathan I went to Derwent with the Sunderland AS lot and they used a Northumbrian Water car-park. Might be a good idea to check when they are next out there and perhaps team up. They are a really friendly bunch. PM me if you want contact details. If you want to go to Kielder a good spot is Elf Kirk Car Park off the C200 just near the dam. It's open 24/7. Wear your thermals. Richard
  16. Nathan Sunderland AS use Derwent Res near Slaley, off the A68, as a dark sky spot. It's pretty good. Further afield, you're about 80mins from Kielder. Richard
  17. I'd also go for the NEQ6 - as someone has already said, it's a mature product and there seems issues with some CGEMs judging by the forums (spotty GOTO, random slews, exactly the same thing happened with the CGE a few years ago). EQMOD is also much more fullly featured than Nexstar if you get into imaging - and it's free. I've been really pleased with my NEQ6. Dixie
  18. Steve You gain resolution - nearly 2 inches of aperture will show itself on good nights. You just see more stuff. Richard
  19. Steve The 4 metres is a C14 - well actually 3900mm. You get used to it. With the binoviewer in it's 1.2x. Olly, I take the point about seeing conditions. But if you are prepared to be patient at the eyepiece, a larger scope will show you more, unless it has optical problems. Damian Peach's C9.25 images are wonderful, yet he uses a C14. Many other imagers use C11s. Resolving power counts for a lot. I have owned a C9.25 and very nice it was too. But not a massive leap ahead of my C8. Richard
  20. Mike has a good point - a C11 and NEQ6 has a lot of potential. Split into its parts it is probably easier to sell if you want to move in a different direction. Whether a C11 is for you is all down to how much hassle you can tolerate in set up and carting it around. The CPC version is a bit of handful. For me it would be top of my list (allied to a NEQ6) - it has greater resolving power than a C9.25 and much more than the Mak. You'll notice that when viewing planets and the moon and for deep sky it's a cracking light bucket. The Mak is a wee bit limited at F15, but as I own a scope of 4 metres focal length I could probably put up with that. Best of the luck with the choice, but remember Aperture is King, but you also need a scope you will use. Richard
  21. There was an 8" CPC for sale on astro ads the other day for less than £800. That would provide an excellent view of the planets. Although, as pointed out above, we are losing Saturn to the south and it won't be back to prime viewing altitudes for a long time. I find Saturn takes magnification well and on good nights I've had decent views up to about 270x plus through an 8" SCT. Seeing conditions are very variable and Arizona is no more blessed in this regard than many other places. Dixie
  22. I'll e there Tuesday - it's curry night at Kielder Castle. Richard
  23. The 9.25 is a very nice scope, as is the C8. I've had both. Just one point about the former though - whatever it's optical advantages one is not that is has smaller central obstruction - it is actually larger than a C8 - approx 35% v 32% of diametre. I found planetary performance very similar with both. The 9.25 does drag in the expected slight boost in DSO brightness. Cheers Richard
  24. Adding my thanks to Steve, Mike, Lesley and Ralph. Really great place. Richard
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