Family astronomy day to celebrate Elan Valley Estate’s Dark Sky Park Status

Orion setting under cloud seen from Elan Valley.

A Family Astronomy Day is being held on Thursday, October 29, to celebrate the Elan Valley Estate in Mid Wales achieving Dark Sky Park accreditation.


The ‘out of this world’ event is being organised during the half term school holidays by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and the Elan Valley Trust at Elan Valley Visitor Centre, near Rhayader from 10am to 10pm.


Elan Valley Estate has become the first privately-owned, but publicly accessible, location in the world to be awarded International Dark Sky Park Status.


There will be lots of talks and activities during day for all ages and levels of interest, from the wannabe-astronaut to the experienced stargazer.
From 10am – 4.30pm, an astronomy exhibition will be held with stands and activities from Astro Cymru and Aberystwyth University, including paper rockets, meteor handing, displays and exhibits.


Outdoor activities include safe solar observation through telescopes by Pete Williamson, FRAS and members of Elan Valley Astronomy and a photographic display. Booking is not required for exhibition events.

From 11am to 12 noon, Sorcha Lewis will give a talk on the important wildlife of the Elan Valley and how Dark Sky Park Status will protect and enhance the wildlife. She will also examine how light pollution impacts our wildlife.
From 12.15pm to 1.15pm, Nigel Ball will give a talk on using DSLR for night-time photography followed from 2pm to 3pm by Pete Williamson, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, with a talk titled “Getting into Solar Astronomy”.

From 3.15pm to 4.15pm, Bob Mizon, MBE, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, will take visitors on a tour of the near and far universe, from A to Z, revealing some of the strange and wonderful things that have been discovered by astronomers of old and today’s giant telescopes.


From 6.15pm to 7pm, Mr Mizon will give a talk themed “Dark Future?” Since the 1950s, the night sky has been quietly and gradually stolen from most people in the developed world by poorly aimed and over-bright lighting.


Co-ordinator of the Commission for Dark Skies, Mr Mizon looks at the prospects for nature’s grandest free show and asks will our descendants see their universe, or just light pollution ?


As there are only 30 spaces available for each of these talks, booking is essential on Tel: 01597 810880.

From 4.30pm to 5.30pm, there will be a special presentation ceremony and formal unveiling of a plaque, followed from 6pm to 6.45pm by the first of a series of planetarium sessions during the evening with Allan Trow, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

There will be further sessions at 7.45pm, 8.45pm and 9.45pm and booking is essential as spaces are limited to 35. Call Tel: 01597 810880 to reserve a place. Visitors to the planetarium will experience a visual spectacular. Presented by a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, each show will take visitors to the planets, constellations, galaxies and beyond.
At 7pm, weather permitting, there will be an outdoor observation session with telescopes and members of Elan Valley Astronomy.  No booking is required.


For more information about the event, contact the Elan Valley Visitor Centre via email or Tel: 01597 810880