Dark Skies Northumberland
By John Clarke
gotten into astrophotography, I wanted to sample some dark skies experience,
some annual holiday owing, we booked a few days to go up to Northumberland.
Researching where to stay, the standout destination had to be the Twice
Brewed Inn in a place on the map known as Once Brewed. The place is
now infamously known for the sycamore gap tree that was chopped down
by a few mindless individuals, but that is another story.
The pub is very
much geared up for astrophotography being in the Northumberland national
park. Here the Bortle scale is between 2 & 3, so very dark. However,
I have to take their word on this as our getaway coincided with the
arrival of Storm Debi which meant it rained relentlessly for 2 days
and a total white-out with cloud for the full duration.
Within the planetarium Wil takes us on a journey into the stars and planets, narrating through the changing seasonal constellations. He is able to take you back in time to any given date to see what was in the sky that day. We did have a few moments when dodging the passing showers where we all rushed outside to see if there were any gaps in the clouds, and for fleeting few minutes there was glimpses of Jupiter and a couple of stars. Wil has almost 30 dobsonian 200mm Skywatcher reflectors which were dragged out and we scrambled to catch fleeting glimpses of the stars.
On the second night,
signed up for the astrophotography course, again Wil led an excellent
presentation on how to photograph the stars. His speciality is very
much about using DSLR cameras and standard lenses, although he does
touch on telescopes and astro cameras. Again, due to the weather, no
chance of practising outside, so this is where the planetarium comes
in and he set up the dome with real-time projections of the stars.
In terms of the
pub, they offer 22 rooms, 3 of which are chalets which are great if
you are wanting to set up for late night / early hours observing without
having to disturb other guests.
Pub B & B - Twice Brewed Inn