Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 08:18 UK

Observatory boasts darkest skies

Kielder observatory
The observatory will be open to professionals and amateurs

An observatory has opened in an area of Northumberland recognised as having the least light pollution in England.

The 450,000 Kielder Observatory will offer astronomers views of the universe uncluttered by intruding light from towns and cities.

The timber structure is perched on a hilltop location on Black Fell and was chosen because the area is famous for having the darkest skies in England.

It is hoped the observatory will be popular with professional and amateurs.

The Kielder Observatory has been funded by the Northumberland Strategic Partnership with help from regeneration agency One NorthEast, the European Regional Development Fund and the Northern Rock Foundation.

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Elisabeth Rowark, director of the Kielder Partnership, which also contributed to the funding, said: "The Kielder Observatory aims to become a symbolic gateway to enable people to access the beautiful expanse of stars that illuminate the skies over Kielder Water and Forest Park.

"The facility is a great way of using one of the region's many assets and allows visitors to get up close and personal with the universe."

The site will host two public open days on Saturday and Sunday.

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