This year brought the 10th Autumn Kielder Forest Star Camp, and I decided to head along to camp with astronomers from all over the country with the hope of getting a clear dark sky. Before I arrived, my friend Martin Whipp from The York Astronomical Society managed to take the above picture of aurora seen from the Kielder Observatory – so my hopes were high that I would get a glimpse of the truly dark sky for myself.
I arrived on the Wednesday to clouds and fog, and ended up spending most of the evening in The Anglers Arms with good food and good company, and by the time we got out we managed to get about five minutes of clear sky before the clouds set in.
Thursday brought rain, and the wettest Kielder Star Camp that I have been to so far. Unfortunately, the rain did not stop, and a number of us ended up getting a little wet inside our tents – including my sleeping compartment. So after a quick nap in the car, decided to head home on Friday morning to get dry and get a good night’s sleep.
Not wanting to miss out on the adventures, this was not the end of the Kielder Star Camp for me. A number of fellow astronomers from The York Astronomical Society decided to head up to Kielder for the main events on Saturday, which included a number of interesting talks at Kielder Castle.
Though I really wish I’d seen the flashing lights of the aurora borealis, it was still a fun adventure and I’ll definitely be going again next year, just as I did last year.
Twice a year astronomers head north to Kielder Forest to enjoy the dark sky as part of the Kielder Forest Star Camp. This year was no exception, bringing us the 9th Autumn Star Camp which included talks from a couple of members from our York Astronomical Society, a BBC television crew filming for The Sky At Night as well as some interest from The Guardian.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case with these things, the weather was not ideal, but I did get one good night of seeing on the Thursday.
Even the dark sky of Kielder is subject to light pollution, but here you can make out a very prominent Jupiter, the Pleiades and a rising Orion.
Here I just pointed my camera up towards the Milky Way, where there is far less light polution.
You can see a close up here of the Andromeda Galaxy. This photograph really reminds me of the early pictures I took of Jupiter. Just imagine the detail I’ll be able to get in the years to come! (If I ever get equipment like the very impressive telescope shown below…)
The larger versions of the pictures above have been uploaded to my Flickr page if you want to see the details.
For myself, no trip to Kielder Forest would be complete without a walk up Deadwater, which has some of the most amazing views! *
* and mobile phone signal…
Unfortunately I wasn’t very well at Kielder Star Camp, however I did get a number of nice sky photographs as well as this timelapse video.
As you can see the camera froze over a couple of hours in to the ten hour session – maybe next time I’ll get some kind of heated band to go around my lens… it’s all learning!