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Starfest is coming this October, with Kielder and Battlesteads Observatories.

2020 Starfest is a fun-packed family astronomy weekend of November 6th, 7th and 8th, organised by our team of astronomers and including astronomers from Battlesteads and Kielder Observatories.

This is the planned timetable of events, with all activities being suitable for anyone of all abilities and ages.

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Activities Details

All activities follow government guidance to be Covid-safe.


Astronomy for Absolute Beginners

The basics for a great night of stargazing.  Ideas and advice for naked eye, binocular and telescope astronomy.  This covers everything at a basic level: latest astronomy and space news, equipment, the moon, planets and galaxies, the northern lights, basic apps, dark sky discovery sites and weather.

4 Things to Look for & Stargazing Apps

The astronomer will take you on a virtual tour of some simple objects to spot in the night sky, including 4 “need to know” stargazing treats and how to see them naked eye, with binoculars and telescopes.  We’ll also take some time to delve a little deeper into phone apps and PC software, and if you’ve got a telescope you need help with, then at the end of the sessions we’ll help you get started.

Build Your Own Spectroscope

Rainbows are pretty but they also give us lots of scientific information about light.  In true “Blue Peter” style we will show you how to construct a simple version of a scientific device to analyse starlight and artificial light.  (which you can take away with you).

Get to Know your Telescope

A hands-on activity session that you can either bring your own telescope to, OR tinker with some of ours.  We will have a solar scope, refractor, and reflector for you to investigate and our astronomers will also help and guide you to set up your own.  Additionally, we’ll have several pairs of binoculars for you to investigate and our team would be happy to give you friendly advice on buying your first telescope!

Rocket Building and Launching

Build and launch a pop-bottle water rocket!  We will spend the morning building rockets which we’ll then launch (whatever the weather) and there will be prizes (meteorites and tektites) for things like the highest rockets and the best designs.

Please bring your own empty pop bottles – a coat, and towel essential!

Stargazing – Weather Permitting

On Friday and Saturday nights, group stargazing will consist of naked eye, binocular and telescope observing with guidance from professional astronomers.  Feel free to ask our astronomers about starlore legends, astronomy or astrophysics.

All indoor events will be held in the great hall (see diagram below), and we’ve planned it so that its covid safe.  There will be gaps between sessions during which things will be wiped down, astronomers will be wearing face shields (inside), and there will be a one way system.  As bookings come in, we will allocate spots on the activities and adjust the floor plan to take into account household group sizes to ensure social distancing will be maintained.  We will ask that, if you’re over 12, you wear a face covering whilst in the hall. (If you have a medical reason to not wear a face covering, please provide us a copy of a doctors letter for this exemption.)

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is StarFest? Friday 6th November to Sunday 8th November
  • What time should I arrive? Between 16:00 and 17:00 on Friday 6th November
  • What time does StarFest finish? 14:30 on Sunday 8th November
  • What does my ticket price include?
  • 2 x stargazing talks
  • 2 x night-time stargazing sessions
  • 2 x nights’ accommodation at Brown Rigg Lodges & Guest Rooms
  • 3 x workshops
  • Other activities tbc.
  • Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday
  • Lunch on Saturday and Sunday
  • Dinner on Friday and Saturday
  • Hot drink and snack during night-time stargazing sessions

What do I need to bring?

  • Warm clothing, gloves, hat
  • Red light torches
  • Binoculars (if you have them)
  • Telescope (if you have one)
  • Camera & tripod (if you have one)
  • You may wish to bring your phone with some astronomical apps loaded such as ‘Stellarium’.
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If you have any unanswered questions please fill in our contact form.

Please note: All activities are suitable for anyone of all ages but children will need to be supervised by at least 1 adult throughout and smaller children may need a little parental encouragement and support with some activities.