Battlesteads Hotel and Dark Sky Observatory

February 20th was a special day for our Rotary Club. President Roy had organised an evening at Battlesteads Hotel in the small village of Wark some 15 miles North of Hexham.
observatoryThe Hotel is also home to the Battlesteads Dark Sky Observatory an accessible, public astronomical observatory offering talks, activities, stargazing and Astro courses to suit anyone from the absolute beginner to the professional. Located under very dark skies, behind the hotel, the observatory offers the perfect compromise between the beautiful majesty of dark skies and the facilities offered by a 21st Century Countryside Village location. So after an excellent dinner in the hotel, 26 of us walked up to the observatory following a path lit by dim red lights – the red light allowed our eyes to get accustomed to the dark. Sadly the evening was cloudy and so we were not able to use the telescope to view the stars but were entertained by Chris Duffy, one of the lead astronomers at the Observatory.
chrisChris gave a most interesting talk starting with the moon and some of its legends before moving on to scientific facts. He then demonstrated the enormous distances in space before showing us how to locates various stars and galaxies. The talk was accompanied by some excellent photos and videos to explain his points. We spent two interesting hours listening to him and returned to our coach at about 11pm.
dinnerThe observatory was not the only attraction, Battlesteads Hotel gave us an excellent meal and is renowned for its selection of beers and ale, which we sampled quite freely as Roy had laid on a coach from our homes in Hexham.