The 9th Kielder Star Party, despite the threat of "Storm Babet," was another success. Admittedly Ms. Babet ensured Kielder had a blustery wet day and evening for Friday’s brave arrivals.
My heart goes out to the travellers who were unable to visit due to the dire and dangerous conditions they were inevitably to meet on their way up or down country to visit. I shall be in touch with these guys, now that the dust has settled after closing the campsite down after our 2023 season.
Richard, Rob and Stu kept a flow of presentations in the warm room Friday evening and through Saturday, with the sun, yes, you read correctly, the sun appeared Saturday. Filtered telescopes observed the sun…..albeit in between showers that were NOT forecast.
[Note to self: become a weather man, you can say what you want…..and we tend to believe you]
Ms. Babet ensured she left us with a little barb for good effect.
And then, as if ordered via Royal Mail’s Special Delivery service, the clouds rolled back and clear skies reigned. With expert guidance from our three on site astronomers, lasers were pointed upwards highlighting systems, stars and planets. Telescopes were tweaked with viewers able to see the wonders above us in our clear unpolluted sky.
[Photo Courtesy Stu Atkinson.]
Some guests had never seen the milky way with the naked eye; Saturday night at Kielder, was that night.
So there we have it, a very brief account of the 2023 Starparty. There are guests who regularly visit to soak up not just our glorious skies but the relaxed, dip in and out option set up by Richard and his dedicated team. Without their enthusiasm, patience and dogged determination such events would not be able to take place.
From all at Kielder Campsite, thank you to the guests that booked, came and saw. A big thank you to our Astronomy Team: Richard, Rob and Stu.
Have a look at these excellent words from Stuart Atkinson. [AKA Stu]
There are many "star camps" held across the UK now, they're very popular, but they can be quite daunting for newcomers to amateur astronomy and skywatching. Seeing all the big telescopes scattered around the campsite, mounted on their fancy pillars and tripods, covered in a spaghetti tangle of wires and connected to flashy computers is quite scary, and beginners often feel like a stranger walking into a saloon bar in a western.
[Photo Courtesy Stu Atkinson.]
The "People's Star Party" is very different, and deliberately different. It is an event aimed specifically at people who literally know nothing about the night sky, or astronomy, but want to learn about it. Everyone is made to feel welcome by the organisers, and it is stressed right from the very start that the event is informal and is really just a first step in the hobby. Questions are encouraged, and nothing is considered too "basic" or "simple" to explain. After all, every astronomy and space expert on TV started off as an absolute beginner too, even Brian Cox. Today he stands on mountain tops with his hair wafting in the wind, waxing lyrical about the beauty of the universe, but he started off knowing absolutely nothing!
During the Star Party there are beginner-level talks in the Warm Room during the day, explaining how the night sky works and how to take photos of the night sky too. These talks continue into the evening if the weather is uncooperative – but if the Kielder clouds part, revealing stars, everyone heads outside to see the real thing. And the real thing is spectacular. Under Kielder's dark skies the stars look like jewels spilled on black velvet, and the Milky Way looks like smoke rising up from a distant camp fire. The organisers set up telescopes and show people such wonders as Jupiter's cloud belts and moons, glittering star clusters, misty nebulae and wispy galaxies. But the star of the show is always Saturn. As Star Party attendees bend down and look into a telescope aimed at Saturn there is always a moment's silence before an exclaimation of "Wow!" or "OH MY GOD!" as they catch their first glimpse of the planet's beautiful rings. It's a very special moment.
The People's Star Party is a great event, and the feedback we get from people as they pack up to go home on the Sunday morning is always very positive. I hope it continues for a long time."
- Stuart Atkinson
[ Photo: Courtesy of Robert Ince.]
If this event or article has sparked anything off, perhaps idle curiosity is giving you a nudge? Then drop this date into your calendar: our next Star Party has been planned for the 25th -27th October 2024. Booking starts online from May next year. If you wish, e-mail
As with all stargazing events, especially a winters evening in Kielder, patience is a virtue and with regards our Great British weather?....anything can happen!