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Star Gazing

The Northumberland Coast AONB offers fabulous stargazing opportunities
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Star gazing Photo: Kevin Temple

With the sea stretching along the whole of the east side of the AONB, it means that even in towns and settlements it is still possible to appreciate the darkness of the skies here. The area is also one of the best locations in England for a chance of seeing the fabulous Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

It is a wonderful experience to sit back on a sand dune, listening to the waves lapping the shore and watching the wonders of the night sky just with the naked eye. Whilst the telescope is definitely the preferred option for astronomers, a pair of binoculars works equally well to start unravelling the wonders of the night sky. 

The best places to star gaze in the AONB are definitely away from any light pollution. Fortunately, street lightening is limited in the AONB so it is easy to find beautifully dark spots along the coast such as the small pull-in car parks like at Boulmer, the stretch between Seahouses and Bamburgh or at Goswick. The causeway to Holy Island is a magical place and popular with stargazers though you have to be careful with tides. 

Throughout the winter months, there will be a series of organised star gazing events. Members of the Northumberland Astronomical Society (NASTRO) will be on hand to provide expert advice and guidance. Watch out in the local press for details or visit the NASTRO website.

NASTRO


Did you know?

  • The sun is over 300,000 times larger than earth
  • Halley's Comet was last seen in the inner solar system in 1986. It was be visible again from Earth sometime in 2061
  • Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system with a surface temperature of over 450 degrees celcius
  • Many scientists believe that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago
  • The solar system formed around 4.6 billion years ago
  • The Moon appears to have more craters and scars than Earth because it has a lot less natural activity going on. The Earth is constantly reforming its surface through earthquakes, erosion, rain, wind and plants growing on the surface, while the moon has very little weather to alter its apperance
  • Saturn isn't the only ringed plantet. Other gas giants such as Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have rings - they are just less obvious
  • Because of lower gravity, a person who weighs 100kg on earth would only weigh 38kg on the surface of Mars
  • The only planet that rotates on its side like a barrel is Uranus. The only planet that spins backwards relative to the others is Venus
  • Some of the fastest meteoroids can travel through the solar system at a speed of around 42 kilometres per second (26 miles per second)
  • It is because of the Sun and Moons gravity that we have high and low tides
  • The scientific name given to the Northern Lights is "Aurora Borealis", a term derived from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas
  • Pierre Gassendi, a 17th Century French philosopher, priest, scientist and astronomer was the first person to describe the natural spectacle in this way in 1621. The first official mention of the Northern Lights goes back much further however, dating to a Babylonian clay tablet by the astonomers of King Nebuchadnezzar II from 568BC

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