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Battlesteads Hotel & Observatory in Northumberland has become the first place in the UK to install a light-measuring photometer camera, as part of a Europe-wide initiative to tackle light pollution.

The eco-friendly hotel has joined the EU-funded "Stars4All" initiative, which has created a network of several hundred devices monitoring the quality of the night sky across Europe.

Specially-designed cameras have been built by astronomers and calibrated in the LICA lab at the Complutense University of Madrid, which will measure how dark the night skies are, how clear or cloudy it is, and what the ambient temperature is. Stars4All will use the information gathered to support a campaign to introduce a new European Sky Protection legislation.

Located on the edge of Northumberland National Park, Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory and has been awarded Designated Dark Sky Discovery Site status, meaning it’s one of the best places in the country to see the stars. Battlesteads is the only place in the UK with a calibrated photometer, leading the country’s research into light pollution.

Roy Alexander FRAS, head astronomer at Battlesteads, said: "This is a fantastic research programme for us to be involved in and will give us really useful data about the dark skies in and around Wark. Light pollution is an ever-growing problem, especially in rural communities. It not only adversely affects nature and wildlife, but more and more research is emerging which suggests that it can contribute towards health problems in humans, by affecting our natural sleep cycles. The darker the skies become, the healthier we will get and the better it will be for wildlife and stargazers."

Part of the Northumberland Dark Sky Park, the largest protected area of night sky in Europe, Battlesteads Observatory offers stargazing experiences for astronomers of all abilities, from getting to know your telescope to aurora hunting and astrophotography.

Real-time data from Battlesteads photometer can be seen at the stars4all portal.

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Eco-friendly Northumberland hotel and restaurant Batlesteads has strengthened its international travel trade relations as it joins a new collection of National Park experiences.

Battlesteads has been successful in applying to be one of the exclusive experiences in The English National Park Experience Collection. This brand-new collection of bookable experiences tells the stories of England’s National Parks and their people, to attract new visitors from overseas.

Located on the edge of Northumberland National Park, Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory, which has been awarded Designated Dark Sky Discovery Site status, meaning it’s one of the best places in the country to see the stars.

Part of the Northumberland Dark Sky Park, the largest protected area of night sky in Europe, Battlesteads Observatory offers stargazing experiences for astronomers of all abilities, from getting to know your telescope to aurora hunting and astrophotography.

Katie Meyrick-Scott, general manager of Battlesteads, said: "We're delighted to be joining The English National Park Experience Collection, which brings together more than 60 of the best experiences across nine of England’s National Parks. This new initiative will help us reach a much wider overseas audience and help to support Northumberland’s thriving year-round tourism industry."



Award-winning Northumberland hotel and restaurant Battlesteads, near Wark, is inviting visitors to discover Britain’s brilliant dark skies at its Dark Sky Observatory during the National Parks Dark Skies Festival.

Taking place from Saturday 18 to Sunday 26 February, the National Parks Dark Skies Festival is now in its second year and aims to encourage more people to discover the fantastic stargazing opportunities in Britain.

Battlesteads, the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory, is offering budding astrologers the chance to enjoy a two or three-night break at the hotel, with tickets to the observatory and the hotel’s famous 8-course local produce tasting menu, from just £95 per room, per night.

The observatory is a Designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, meaning it’s one of the few places in the UK free enough from light pollution to see the Milky Way with the naked eye or even watch the Northern Lights.

Events and courses take place at the observatory throughout the year, from ‘get to know your telescope’ sessions to aurora hunting and deep sky astro-photography, with something for all levels of stargazer.

Katie Meyrick-Scott, general manager of Battlesteads Hotel said: "Since opening our observatory in 2015, we’ve been offering guests the chance to discover the beauty of Northumberland’s dark skies, which offer some of the best stargazing in the country. Our exclusive two and three-night packages, including bed and breakfast, observatory tickets and 8-course tasting menu, are available throughout the week of the National Parks Dark Skies Festival and throughout March."

Two night's bed and breakfast with an 8-course tasting menu on the first night and observatory tickets to use on the second night start from £95 per person, based on two sharing. A three-night package is available from £137.50 per person.

Both packages can be upgraded to accommodation in one of Battlesteads’ five new luxury eco lodges for £30 per room per night, and matched wines can be added to the tasting menu for £25 per person.

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Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant in Wark, Northumberland, has officially opened its on-site observatory, with local MP Guy Opperman doing the honours of cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony.

Sitting at the edge of the Northumberland National Park, the observatory has been awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site status. This means that it is one of the best sites in England for stargazing away from light pollution and offers the opportunity to see the Milky Way with the naked eye under the guided eye of professional astronomer and teacher, Roy Alexander.

Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK to have an observatory within its grounds, fully accessible to guests staying in the hotel’s five eco-lodges which were completed earlier this year.

Facing south, it can accommodate up to 25 budding or seasoned astronomers and is equipped with the latest telescopes chosen for their technical prowess and ease of use. These include a Celestron C11 OTA on an EQ8 mount, an enormous set of 25 x 100 mounted binoculars specifically for guests with wheelchairs, plus a range of smaller telescopes targeted at true beginners.

The observatory runs courses targeted at all levels of stargazer, from introductory ‘Get to know your telescope’ sessions to sessions focusing on identifying and tracking some of the night-sky’s star performers.

Commenting on the Dark Sky Observatory, Richard Slade, owner of Battlesteads, said: “We are delighted to have the observatory up and running and be able to offer our guests the chance to discover our beautiful skies here in Northumberland’s Dark Sky Park. Astro-tourism is an emerging and growing leisure market. With such a world-class environment for studying the stars on our doorstep it made sense to embrace this and add to the many reasons to visit Battlesteads and the county of Northumberland.”
The official opening of the observatory comes as Richard and his wife Dee celebrate their 10-year anniversary of owning Battlesteads.

The couple took on the hotel, pub and restaurant in October 2005, and in the years since have turned it into one of the UK’s top sustainable tourism destinations with numerous awards under their belts.

A need to improve energy consumption resulted in business-wide sustainable practices that have led to Battlesteads winning prestigious awards such as the Considerate Hoteliers ‘Good Egg Award’, Green Hotel of the Year at the Hotel Cateys, a Gold Star Award at the Green Tourism Awards and a Platinum level rating in TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Programme. The hotel and restaurant also has Three Star Sustainability Champion status, awarded by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Richard and Dee have become ambassadors for sustainable tourism and are often invited to speak to audiences across the country about their journey and the lessons they’ve learned.

Courses at the Battlesteads observatory are priced starting at £15 per person and the eco-lodges are priced at £165 per night for bed and breakfast based on two people sharing.

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