Stargazing event at Magpie Mine

This is an archived press release

Friday 19 August 2011

Would-be stargazers are invited to meet the experts for an evening of local history and exploring the night sky from an historic Peak District mine.

The National Park Authority with Nottingham Trent University are offering 20 free places for people who have little or no knowledge of astronomy to get clued up on what is happening at Magpie Mine, near Sheldon, both on the ground and in the night sky above.

The event will include a number of short talks from local specialists on the history of Magpie Mine, the Dark Skies project, what can be seen in the night sky that night and what to look out for in September.

It will take place on Wednesday August 31, from 7.30pm until 9pm. Spaces are strictly limited to 20 people but a waiting list will be used to prioritise bookings for future events. Dogs are not allowed. To book call 01629 816200 or email 

John Tanner, a research officer for the Peak District National Park Authority and keen astronomer, said: “This promises to be an unusual event – Magpie Mine has a fascinating past, which people will hear about, but it has been chosen for this event because it is in an extremely dark location well away from streetlights and other sources of light pollution.

“It will give people a whole new experience to visit Magpie Mine in the dark. Experts will be on hand to show everyone how to explore the night sky using telescopes and binoculars and see some of the wonders of the universe for themselves.”

On a clear night viewers should see the Milky Way, the seasonal Summer Triangle constellation and the Andromeda Galaxy – 2.5 million light years away – the furthest away feature in the universe that can be seen with the naked eye.

John said: “Fingers crossed for a clear night and don’t forget to bring a torch!”

If it is cloudy night there will be an illustrated talk on the solar system instead.

Magpie Mine is an extremely dark location, and the ground underfoot can be rough, wet and muddy. Warm clothing, sensible shoes, and a torch are essential for people attending this event which will go ahead regardless of the weather. Hot and cold drinks will be provided.

The event is being run by the Peak District National Park Authority with Nottingham Trent University, Peak District Mines Historical Society, and several local astronomical societies that make up the Peak District Dark Skies group.

More stargazing events, part of the National Park Authority’s Dark Skies project, are being planned for the coming weeks and will be announced soon.

To keep up to date visit the website  

The Dark Skies project aims to raise awareness of the special qualities of the night sky in and around the Peak District National Park. The events are made possible due to the support of Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Effective Learning in Science, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Peak District Dark Skies group.

This is an archived press release

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