The sky’s the limit as people reach for the stars

A STAR-STUDDED series of special events is coming to a popular beauty spot.

Druridge Bay Country Park will serve as the ideal location for people to study the night sky.

Total beginners, amateur astronomers and professional stargazers can all take part in the free sessions, which have been developed by the Northumberland Astronomical Society (Nastro) and will be hosted by Northumberland County Council.

The programme begins tomorrow night (Friday) with a Human Space Exploration talk by Robert Naylor that will outline the history of human spaceflight, from Vostok 1 to the retirement of NASA’s shuttle, and its future.

It will also evaluate whether it really is essential to our species.

This will be followed by observing, with planets and plenty of star clusters visible through the society’s telescopes.

On Friday, January 20, Dr Paul Lewis will explain how the sun shines and the other features of our nearest star, including what will happen when the fuel runs out.

He will run through how a solar telescope works and the safe ways in which the Sun can be viewed.

Participants can find out about the different types of telescopes and eyepieces and how they work together at a workshop on Friday, January 27.

They can also learn how to astro image, both with and without a telescope and processing techniques, as well as see a slideshow of astro images by Nastro members.

The next day (Saturday, January 28), after a short astronomy talk about the effects of light pollution on astronomy by Malcolm Robinson, people are invited to enjoy the Stargazing LIVE Star Party.

This will include an interactive resource session where you can make your own Planisphere.

Nastro Events Officer Emma Jane Maddison said: “We are really excited to be partnered with BBC Stargazing LIVE again this year and we will be running free astronomy events.

“Our mission is to promote astronomy education and this is a great opportunity for us to do so.”

All the events will start at 7.30pm and be followed by stargazing.

Anyone taking part is advised to wrap up warm and take binoculars or telescopes if they have them. Hot drinks and snacks will be available to buy at the cafe.

Booking is essential for all sessions.

For more details about the events and booking information telephone 01670 511536 or visit www.nastro.org.uk/stargazing-live-2012.html