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'Dark Sky Experience' poised to get go ahead in Tomintoul

By Ewan Malcolm

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A 'DARK Sky Experience' looks set to get the go ahead after a joint proposal from the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust and the Cairngorms Astronomy Group.

The experience will include a Dark Sky Exhibit in the existing Discovery Centre as well as a mini observatory and planetarium linked to the village hall.

Funding was secured from the Green Recovery Fund which aims to promote sustainable development and support for community projects around Scotland.

Development manager for TGDT Oliver Giles said: "We're working with a company called Lateral North. They've designed and started to work on the exhibit.

"We hope it can bring focus to why preserving our night sky is so important.

"We should have it installed before the end of the season in October and if we don't we will do a special reopening to unveil the exhibit. That obviously ties in with the darker nights coming in anyway so that's the plan."

The Tomintoul and Glenlivet area achieved the prestigious designation of International Dark Sky Park in 2018. Sightings of the aurora borealis - also known as The Northern Lights - are not uncommon, making it a must visit attraction for stargazers around the world.

Light pollution remains high on the agenda for Tomintoul and Glenlivet. Much of the street lighting in the area has been replaced with dark sky friendly lights and the community continue to work hard on reducing their light pollution.

Mr Giles said: "A lot of work has been done by the community and they should really be congratulated for their work to improve the night sky in our area. It has been hard work and it is ongoing.

"We've not stopped after getting dark sky status either. We're constantly measuring and improving the quality of the night sky here as we know it is one of the staples of the area so we want to maintain that."

The number of visitors to the area dropped well below the usual 11,000 due to the pandemic. Now, after a difficult 18 months, the community is hoping to welcome visitors back to the area.

Mr Giles said: "We hope this encourages visitors back after the pandemic. It's an outdoors activity so it should be relatively fine to visit.

"The night sky in our area is obviously unique as you just don't see most of these things elsewhere in the country.

"The key message from us is that we are really ready to welcome visitors back. We've got some amazing things to see and do in the area and the dark sky experience is just one of them.

"We just can't wait to welcome visitors back."

More information can be found here.

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