Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Businesses reach for the stars in the Brecon Beacons

The constellation of Andromeda
The constellation of Andromeda seen in the sky above the Brecon Beacons National Park

Businesses are reaching for the stars in an attempt to boost tourism in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

People working in the tourist industry are taking part in astronomy workshops so they can attract some of the 250,000 stargazers in the UK.

They hope that learning more about the constellations of Andromeda, Hydra and Vulpecula will boost business.

The Brecon Beacons is seen as an ideal place to look at the stars because there is very little light pollution.

A temporary planetarium was set up in Llangors Community Centre, near Brecon, last week for the first Diamonds in the Sky workshop.

More than 20 tourism operators took part in the event jointly hosted by Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and the University of Glamorgan.

People were shown stars in the planetarium and were then asked to see if they could spot the constellations for themselves outside.

Allan Trow of the University of Glamorgan said the Brecon Beacons was the perfect location to view the night sky.

He added: "The Brecon Beacons National Park offers those astronomical minded individuals a fantastic opportunity to glimpse some of the darkest skies in the UK.

"The view of the Milky Way is breathtaking and the prospect of glimpsing many deep sky objects will inspire many to stay and enjoy the area with its wealth of natural beauty once the sun rises."

Carol Williams, tourism growth officer for the national park authority, said the area had some of the "darkest areas in Europe".

She added: "We've undertaken some research and discovered that around 250,000 people in the UK are interested in astronomy, so it makes perfect sense to give our local tourism businesses as much help as we can to market the wonderfully dark and starry nights in the national park."

Ms Williams said light pollution was becoming more of a problem for city-based astronomers.

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