Chloe Shakesby

Plans submitted for new radio astronomy facility in Northumberland

A North East observatory has announced that it will be creating a new radio astronomy facility in the region.

Kielder Observatory, in Northumberland, has submitted plans for the new facility to Northumberland County Council.

If successful, the plans would produce a five-metre-diameter radio telescope that could contribute to worldwide scientific research and attract university research.

The acquisition and installation of the telescope would be mostly funded by the Tanlaw Foundation.

Catherine Johns, CEO of Kielder Observatory, commented: “This investment would make a dramatic difference to our astronomy offer, especially now when people are understandably reluctant to travel, as it would mean you can access the observatory remotely.

“A school child in Sunderland or Darlington, for example, would be able to experience Kielder without setting foot here.

“We can use it for citizen science projects and engage a wide variety of audiences in STEM, inspiring and illuminating career pathways and providing student placements and apprenticeship opportunities.

“It’s an exciting time in the history of Kielder Observatory.”

Lord Tanlaw, of the Tanlaw Foundation, added: “It is hugely important that we can use this facility to reach a wider, hitherto excluded, audience to observe the universe and create distance learning in astronomy, data science and astrobiology.”

Kevin May, forest management director for North England Forest District, said: “We believe this telescope will be unique in the forests we care for, building the profile of Kielder and Northumberland, and will allow many people to experience the Kielder skies via remote access.

“It will build our astrotourism offer across the North and educate people on the value of conserving and building natural capital awareness at an important time globally.”

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