Kielder Constellations

A New Dawn For Public Astronomy

Kielder Observatory, based within the astonishing Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland, UK, is one of the leading public astronomical observatories in Europe and possibly the world.

Its home is the unique, Charles Barclay-designed observatory perched at the end of a long, winding track in Kielder. The isolated location in the middle of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is the ideal spot for viewing the night sky and experiencing a mind-blowing 'Kielder Moment', but perhaps not the perfect location when it comes to offering that elusive moment to audiences everywhere who might never make it to Kielder themselves. ARCADE was invited to tender for the opportunity to create an immersive outreach experience for audiences all around the UK and the world, and we were delighted to be selected to partner with the brilliant observatory team to design and build this exciting new tool for widespread public engagement.

Your Observatory Wherever You Are

Kielder Constellations invites astronomy fans to place a miniature model of a Kielder-inspired observatory on a tabletop in AR. Once in place, a simple tap takes them inside, where they discover an entire Universe just waiting for them.

They can choose a tour - will it be Cosmology, the Solar System, Stellar Lifecycle, or the most recent addition, an exploration of the Carrington Event in 1859, the most intense geomagnetic storm ever recorded. Whatever their selection, they are thrown into the stars and can discover more about everything from planets to galaxies to nebulae and more, all in stunning 3D.

Even better, the entire experience is narrated by the brilliant Dan Pye, Kielder Observatory's Director of Astronomy and Science Communication. His expert knowledge, and the wonderfully engaging way he communicates it, takes audiences on an intimate and fascinating journey through some of the greatest wonders of the universe.

Kielder Constellations was published as an app on iOS and Android, and has engaged astronomy audiences all around the world. It has also added an entirely new tool to the Kielder Observatory team's schools programme, offering an exciting, digital way to take children on a journey to the observatory and into the night sky without even leaving their classroom.

Kielder Observatory
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We really want to extend access to the Kielder moment and the augmented reality technology allows people to have a mini Kielder Observatory on their kitchen table or in their school. It was important that the architecture was mimicked in some way so it feels as if you’re actually going into the observatory and exploring the night sky. It will allow people to feel a lot closer to Kielder and to the observatory itself.
Catherine Johns, CEO, Kielder Observatory
No visit to Kielder Observatory – virtual or otherwise – would be complete without travelling up its unmistakable track, so that’s where you start. But then you can place your observatory wherever you are and step inside to view the night sky.
Alex Book, Co-Founder, ARCADE