THE LARGEST facility at a North-East observatory has been named after the late astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore.

Presenters from BBC science programme The Sky at Night and members of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society were at the dedication ceremony of the Sir Patrick Moore Observatory – part of the Kielder Observatory, in Northumberland.

The event at the public observatory, which enjoys England’s darkest skies, was conducted as TV cameras filmed a new episode of the programme.

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Jon Culshaw, the UK comedian and impressionist who has appeared on many Sky At Night episodes and is a keen amateur astronomer, unveiled a plaque on Kielder’s largest observatory with founder director Gary Fildes.

Many of the Sky at Night’s presenters, including Chris Lintott and the full production team, were on hand to witness the ceremony before filming began.

Mr Lintott, an Oxford University cosmologist, said: “It's wonderful to have a chance to visit the Kielder Observatory.

“It's a much loved and important facility, and I know that Patrick would have loved to have visited himself.

“I'm sure he would be proud to know that the observatory had been named in his honour.”

Kielder Observatory has dedicated its largest ‘turret’, home of one of the biggest public telescopes in the UK - a 0.5m Newtonian reflecting telescope - to Sir Patrick.

It is one of two permanently mounted telescopes at Kielder, each housed in separate facilities at the observatory, and part of its large telescope collection which is regularly used by the public.

The Sky At Night recorded its March episode at Kielder which will feature observations of a large asteroid DA14 as it travelled, closely but safely, past earth.

The main programme will be about The Moore Winter Marathon a challenge to see 50 of the winter sky’s most striking objects, a challenge that was devised by Sir Patrick Moore.