Councillors at Monday’s meeting (02 March) of the full Town Council voted to keep residents in the dark. Maybe not a completely accurate interpretation of their commitment, rather an expression of the Council’s support for Marlborough’s inaugural ‘Dark Skies Festival’ (to take place in October) and an encouragement for residents turn the lights out and look upwards.
The Marlborough Downs area doesn’t suffer too greatly from light pollution and the Festival, supported by the Town Council and the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty aims to encourage residents and visitors to look upwards, to marvel at some of the beauty, art and science of the night sky that would normally go unnoticed.
Over the weekend of 2-4 October this year astronomers, enthusiasts, astrophotographers and experts in all things celestial will descend on Marlborough.
BBC’s The Sky At Night presenter, Prof Chris Lintott, will be speaking and there will be tours of the Blackett Observatory – the world’s oldest computerised telescope at Marlborough College.
Events across the weekend (which will mostly be free) will stretch throughout the day and night in a variety of indoor and outdoor venues across the town.
These will include:
- Stargazing, Moon-watching and Solar Astronomy
- Interactive Planetarium
- Astrophotography and astronomy using your phone
- Wildlife at night
- Talks from astronomers, Dark Skies representatives and local enthusiasts
- Themed dinners • Interactive workshops for all ages
- Exhibitions throughout the weekend, including Airbus Space & Defence, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the Commission for Dark Skies and many more.
There will also be a display of ‘The Museum of the Moon’ by Luke Jerram. A seven metre diameter internally-lit art installation of the Moon will reside somewhere in the town, maybe even in the Marlborough College Chapel as any venue will have to be of 10m head height or more. This Moon features very detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, so that each centimetre of its surface represents 5km of the actual moon surface.
Maybe even the lights will go out in the town at specific times so that the view of the heavens will be clearer, but the Festival promises to be something very different and exciting for Marlborough.