Attractions industry news

04 Jan 2019

Northumberland planetarium proposal granted planning approval

Northumberland's dark skies economy looks set to be given a boost, after planning permission was granted to build a new planetarium at the Kielder Observatory in the north of England.

The observatory will now enter a funding round in the hope that it can raise the £150,000 (US$189,253, €165,956) it needs to build the planetarium, which is scheduled to open in Q3 of this year.

Newcastle architectural practice JDDK Architects have been tasked with the design of the planetarium and opted to clad it in scorched larch timber.

The plans will mean Kielder Observatory can now offer visitors activities during the daytime, as well as on cloudy and poor visibility nights, and in the summer evenings when it gets dark at a later time.

"The potential is endless and should have a much farther reach, especially with next year being the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing," said operations director John Holmes. "Stargazing can be tremendous for the region.|

According to research by Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, last year dark skies tourism was worth over £25m (€31.5m, €28.8m) to the county a year, creating around 450 jobs and generating £128m (US$161.6m, €142.3m) for the local economy since 2013.

The observatory already works with two local universities – Sunderland and Durham. It's management are expected to strengthen these educational ties, with plans also including a pop-up planetarium to deliver astronomy science lessons in local schools.

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