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Where, what and who: Progress in Astronomy’s big questions

Our keynote speaker Professor Chris Lintott (BBC Sky at Night, University of Oxford) takes a fresh look at the Universe around us, using the latest data and discoveries to explore how we’re doing in the biggest questions of all - what did the Earth come to be, how did the Universe begin…and is there anyone out there?

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 2PM
Tickets £5, under 18 free
Suitable for everyone
[photo Chris Lintott)

Museum of the Moon

An opportunity to get up close to the Moon! Experience this incredible seven-metre inflated moon hanging in the stunning chapel at Marlborough college. The installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound created by UK artist Luke Jerram and award winning composer Dan Jones.

FROM 25TH TO 31ST OCTOBER - Various times throughout half-term and festival weekend
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Museum-of-the Moon by Luke Jerram. Ely Cathedral UK, 2019)

Exhibition of Astrophotography

This exhibition by Robert Harvey presents images of the Universe over spectacular landscapes on Earth.  All the photographs were taken with a regular digital camera and none used a telescope. They reveal the colour of an aurora, the trail of the International Space Station, dazzling beads of brightness at the end of a total solar eclipse, a dark sky studded with countless stars, the Milky Way arching between opposite horizons, and structure in an unimaginably far-away galaxy.

MONDAY 25TH OCTOBER TO SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER
10AM TO 3.30PM EVERY DAY

Free event - no booking needed 
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Earth and the Universe exhibition at Wiltshire Museum, Robert Harvey)

Welcome to Marlborough Dark Skies

Charles Barclay, Director of the Blackett Observatory at Marlborough College, opens the main festival weekend with a fully illustrated talk introducing us to the wonders and importance of the night sky.

FRIDAY 29TH OCTOBER 6PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(photo courtesy of Marlborough College)

Reach for the Stars - St Peter’s Church night tower tours

Explore the history and mysteries of St Peter's Church Tower at night on this magical tour.

FRIDAY 29TH and SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 7PM
Tickets £2 payable on arrival
Booking essential
(Photo Jeremy at the tower, St Peter’s Church)

Stargazing at the Blackett Observatory - SOLD OUT

Charles Barclay and the Friends of the Blackett Observatory welcome you to Stargazing in this special and unique location above Marlborough Town. Be prepared to be amazed - these local experts will introduce you to the wonders of the night sky, as long as it is a clear night! See Event Details for more information on what to expect.

FRIDAY 29TH OCTOBER 7.15PM and 8.15PM
SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 
 7.15PM and 8.15PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 6 years and over - children must be accompanied
(Photo Blackett Observatory by Gavin James)

Stargazing on the Common

Swindon Stargazers welcomes you to an evening of Stargazing on the Common. Be prepared to be amazed! With their telescopes, these local experts will introduce you to the night sky above Marlborough. See Event Details for more information on what to expect.

FRIDAY 29TH and SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER
Drop-in anytime between 7.30-9.30PM
Free event - no booking needed
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Avebury NASA event by Rob Slack)

Solar Observing at the Blackett Observatory - SOLD OUT

Astronomy isn't only about the night skies. Charles Barclay and the Friends of the Blackett Observatory introduce you to solar observing in this special location. These local experts will show you the Sun up close, through Solar goggles, Solar scopes and telescopes as long as it's a clear day! See Event Details for more information on what to expect.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER  9.45AM and 10.45AM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 6 years and over - children must be accompanied
(Photo by Gavin James)

Blast off!

Come and learn the science of a rocket with the Space Detectives. Learn and understand how rockets were developed as well as how they interact with gravity to blast off into space! We will then design, build and launch our own air powered rocket during the workshop!

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 10AM, 11.30AM, and 1PM
Suitable for KS1-KS2 children but all children must be accompanied
Free event - booking esential
(Image Blast Off Live! By Space Detectives)

Dark Skies and why they matter

What can we do to keep dark skies dark? In this talk Bob Mizon from the Commission for Dark Skies explains why minimising light pollution is important not only for stargazing, but for our health, biodiversity, the battle against energy waste and slowing climate change. Unlike the elimination of fossil fuel products from the atmosphere, the solution is simple!

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 10AM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Bob Mizon)

Dark Skies information and display space

Stands and displays from many of the people and organisations putting on events over the Festival weekend. Pop along to find out about the ‘Night Blight’ mapping, local astronomy groups, Astro-sketching, Astrophotography, the BMT Defence and Security, the Commission for Dark Skies, the North Wessex Downs, and much more…

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 10AM - 5PM
SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 10AM - 4PM


Everyone welcome - Free entry - no booking
Accessible venue
Masks recommended and we may have to restrict numbers at any one time

Gallery of Astrophotography

Visit a Gallery of Astrophography by Pete Richardson. Pete is a UK based Astrophotographer and takes all of his images from his own home observatory in Somerset. He was a finalist in the International Astrophotographer of the Year contest which showcases the best Astronomy Photos from around the World. 

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 10AM - 5PM
SUNDAY 31st OCTOBER 10AM - 4PM 

Open between talks in the Assembly Room at the Town Hall
Suitable for everyone
Free event - No booking needed - just drop in
(Photo Cocoon Nebula by Pete Richardson)

Spin art

Fun art for families with professional artists from No Added Sugar. Drop in and use a spin machine to make your very own unique stars to take home.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER
Drop-in anytime between 10AM - 4PM
Free event - no booked needed
Suitable for all ages
(Photo Spin Art by No Added Sugar)

Starry night - art workshop

Fun art for children with professional artists from No Added Sugar. Come along and take part in creating 2 large collaborative Starry Night paintings, that will later be on public display.  Due to Covid restrictions you will need to book a 20 minute session to take part.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 10AM - 4PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 7 years upwards
(Photo Starry Night by No Added Sugar)

Rockets and rovers

How do you get a robot buggy from Earth to the surface of Mars in one piece and then drive around without crashing? This drop-in workshop will explore each of the challenges involved, with the opportunity to create your own solutions and try them out. You’ll follow in the footsteps of the makers of Martian rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance and Zhurong. Your Chief Engineer for the mission will be Simon Holbeche of Bath Astronomers.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER
Drop-in anytime between 10.30AM - 12.30PM
No booking needed
Suitable for children KS1 & KS2 - children must be accompanied 
(Image credit Simon Holbeche)

Night Blight and the countryside

A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights of the countryside - but we want more people to have a chance to experience this amazing sight wherever they live. In this talk, Emma Marrington from CPRE - the Countryside Charity - will explore with you the the campaigning work to tackle light pollution and help protect and enhance dark skies. Henry Oliver of the North Wessex Downs AONB will describe why dark skies matter to this nationally protected landscape, introduce you to the AONB ‘s new good lighting guide and offer some ideas about how we can all fight Night Blight.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 11.30AM
Suitable for everyone
Free event - booking essential
(Photo by Paul Howell)

Planetarium OR Space odyssey (Sat)

Come on this mystery tour with The Commission for Dark Skies; either to a mobile Planetarium (Covid allowing) experiencing the wonder of the universe, or alternatively on a Cosmic Odyssey, a fun interactive journey through the Cosmos.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 11.30AM, 12.30PM, 2PM,  and 3PM 
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone - children must be accompanied by an adult
(Photo Planetarium at Malvern Bob Mizon)

hertz - secret sound of the stars

Stars resonate like musical instruments. Have fun playing with two of hertz’s star machines, using the cosmic music of two real stars to transform sand into beautiful vibrating shapes. hertz is an interactive artwork by Juliet Robson in collaboration with a meteorologist, a mathematician and an astrophysicist. hertz encourages curiosity and questions about our perceptions of our planet and place in the cosmos through sensory experience.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER Various times
Tickets £2, under 18 free  
Booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo taken at WeTheCurious, Bristol by Juliet Robson)

To infinity and beyond – Astronomical Q&A session

Charles Barclay, Director of the Blackett Observatory and Head of Astronomy at Marlborough College will take questions from the audience on any aspect of Astronomy. Come with questions that have always puzzled you or on which you would like an opinion. All questions welcomed, especially simple ones!

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 12pm (Midday)
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(photo courtesy of Marlborough College)

Watching space dust

This talk by Simon Holbeche of Bath Astronomers follows the dust from supernova to your garden. After the creation of the Solar System there was still a lot of dust around and for billions of years, as the finest of grains or the largest of space rocks, has been drawn in by Earth’s mass and created spectacular fireworks in our skies for dinosaurs and the humans alike as huge quantities of rock are vaporised each day.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 1PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Image credit Simon Holbeche)

I see the Moon and the Moon sees me

Storytelling for children - Myths and legends about the moon from all over the world with storyteller Roger Day. Takes place under the incredible Museum of the Moon hanging in St Michael and All Angels Chapel at Marlborough College for the Festival.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 1.15PM and 2.15PM
SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 1.15PM and 2.15PM

Suitable for 7 years upwards (but younger children welcome)
Tickets £1 - booking essential
(Photo Roger Day)

A History of Women in Astronomy

Historically, astronomy has been very male dominated, but this talk by Mary McIntyre celebrates the trailblazing women who worked in the field and highlights the challenges they faced.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 2.30PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Image History of Women in Astronomy Poster, Mary McIntyre)

On Board the ISS

Come on a virtual mission to the International Space Station in this talk. Jo Richardson gives an insight into life and work on board the ISS; how astronauts train and the importance of the science undertaken in space. She salutes the first British funded astronaut on the ISS - Major Tim Peake and discovers just how and why he has become a national hero and a great inspiration to many.  

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 3PM
Free event
Suitable for everyone
(Photo international space station credit Space Detectives)

Astronomy sketching workshop

A hands-on workshop with Mary McIntyre where you will learn how to create astronomy sketches using pastels. All materials will be provided and you can take home your amazing sketches.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 4PM
Tickets £5, under 18 free
Booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(photo Astro sketching, Mary McIntyre)

Stumbling around In the dark

Digital photography enables us to capture the beauty of the night sky in unprecedented detail. In this presentation, Robert Harvey shows how to use an ordinary digital single lens reflex camera to make stunning images of stars, planets, earth's moon and the Milky Way, as well as more elusive astronomical phenomena such as meteors and comets. 

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 4PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Robert Harvey)

How do you solve a problem like debris-ah?

The threat of so called “Mega Constellations” of satellites, and the risk of collisions in space, not only to astronomy across all of the electromagnetic spectrum, but potentially the impact on humanity in general is a threat many members of the public are not aware of. Nick Howes from BMT Defence and Security will talk about this, and what can be done.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 4.30PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 8 years upwards
(Photo Nick Howes)

Avebury lantern making and night walk

A special festival event being held by The National Trust at Avebury Stone Circle. Starting at the Barn at Avebury children can enjoy a lantern making activity. Then head out as a group to the henge to  experience the stones and the Avebury skyscape by night on this special guided walk. Finishing in the Old Farmyard with a firepit, marshmallow roasting, hot chocolate and a warm spiced apple punch for the adults.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 5PM
Suitable for everyone
£5 per person. Under 5s free.
For more information, visit the National Trust website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury
(Photo Night sky at Avebury ©National Trust Mike Robinson)

Stargazing at Manton

Local astronomers welcome you to an evening of Stargazing at Jubilee fields/Manton play park. Be prepared to be amazed! With their telescopes, these local experts will introduce you to the night sky above Marlborough. See event details for more information on what to expect.

SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER
Drop-in anytime between 7.30-9.30PM
Free event - no booking needed
Suitable for everyone - Children must be accompanied by an adult 
(Image by Lonely Cottage Productions)

Make me an Astronaut

Ever wanted to know what it takes to become an astronaut? In this workshop with the Space Detectives, we discover the skills and abilities required to do just that. Test yourselves with teamwork, communication, being calm under pressure and reaction times. Are you made of the "Right Stuff?"

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 10AM and 11.30AM
Suitable for KS1-KS2 children but all children must be accompanied
Free event - booking esential
(Image Make me an Astronaut By Space Detectives)

The Sun, our local Star

If weather permits, Bob Mizon will be showing images of the Sun through a telescope, using a safe projection method. If cloudy, there will be a talk indoors about the Sun, its past, present and future, and how everything that happens on planet Earth ultimately depends on it. Did you know that your existence depends on hydrogen being cooked into helium?

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 10AM - 11AM
Free event - Drop-in, no booking needed. 
Suitable for all - children must be accompanied
(Photo of the Sun by Sheri Karl)

Cosmic recycling

Illustrated with images taken from a back garden observatory in Marlborough, this talk by Gavin James and Jonathan Genton will transport you out across the cosmos, taking in nebulae, clusters and galaxies along the way. The theme of recycling is explored at the universal level, from star birth, dramatic star death and everything in between. 

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 11AM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone aged 8 upwards 
(Photo Flame & Horse Head by Gavin James)

Introduction to Astronomical sketching

Why draw? A talk by Sally Russell introducing astronomical sketching. Through her own photos and sketches, Sally tells us how she got started, her experience and background. She talks about what astronomy equipment you need, what astronomical targets are good for sketching, as well as what art materials and techniques to use to get started on astronomical sketching.  

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 11AM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 7 years upwards (but younger children welcome)
(Photo Sally Russell)

Planetarium OR Space odyssey (Sun)

Come on this mystery tour with The Commission for Dark Skies; either to a mobile Planetarium (Covid allowing) experiencing the wonder of the universe, or alternatively on a Cosmic Odyssey, a fun interactive journey through the Cosmos.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 11.30AM, 12.30PM, 2PM,  and 3PM 
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone - children must be accompanied by an adult
(Photo Planetarium at Malvern Bob Mizon)

Moths at the Meadow

Join Anna Forbes, Action for the River Kennet's Senior Project Officer, for a talk on the fascinating moths and other nocturnal wildlife of Stonebridge Wild River Reserve. On the eastern edge of Marlborough, Stonebridge is a beautiful green space with the River Kennet running through it. A place where people can witness the amazing diversity of wildlife in and around a chalk stream.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 12.30PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Elephant Hawk Moth by ARK)

In the night sky

Become a Dark Sky Ranger with the Space Detectives and know just how important it is to care for our dark skies. Discover star patterns and their related stories as well as make your own edible creations!

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 1PM and 2.30PM
Suitable for KS1-KS2 children but all children must be accompanied
Free event - booking esential
(Image In the Night Sky By Space Detectives)

Journey into Space

In this talk aimed at young people, we journey with Steve Tonkin from the Sun, through the Solar System, into Deep Space, encountering star clusters, galaxies, and the birth and death of stars. 

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 1PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for 10 years upwards 
(Photo Steve Tonkin)

Practical sketching workshop

Astronomical sketching with Sally Russell where you can try your hand at drawing the Moon and other astronomical targets (from photos). Sally will demonstrate sketching techniques and provide all the materials you need to produce your own sketch.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 1PM, 1.45PM, 2.30PM and 3.15PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone aged 7 upwards (but younger children welcome)
(Photo Sally Russell)

From smart phone to smart observatory

Astrophotography is a tricky art form, but it is amazing what can be done with relatively humble modern equipment and a little patience. The talk by Gavin James takes a beautifully illustrated and practical look at a range of photographic techniques to capture the heavens, starting with the phone in your pocket, through your holiday snaps DSLR, all the way to a fully remote operable back garden observatory.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone aged 8 upwards 
(Photo Bodes Galaxy by Gavin James)

Seven ways the Universe tries to kill you

In this talk of cataclysmic events by Steve Tonkin we go from gamma-ray bursts to asteroid impacts. This light-hearted but scientifically robust approach incorporates a lot of fundamental cosmological processes, from stellar evolution to galactic interaction. 

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2PM
Aimed at adults but suitable for all
Free event - booking essential
(photo Steve Tonkin)

The Astronomy of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is astronomically aligned but how, and why, do we know this? Apart from the obvious one, are there other alignments that generally go unnoticed? If so, what can they tell us about the people who built this enigmatic monument? Come to this talk by Simon Banton to discover more.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 3.30PM
Free event - booking essential
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Simon Banton)

Nocturnal river walk - SOLD OUT

Join Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and Wiltshire Bat Group for a night time wildlife stroll at Stonebridge Meadow. On the eastern edge of Marlborough, Stonebridge is a beautiful green space with the River Kennet running through it. A place where people can witness the amazing diversity of wildlife in and around a chalk stream.

SUNDAY 31ST OCTOBER 6PM
Free event - booking essential
(Donations to ARK on the night are welcome)
Suitable for everyone
(Photo Elephant Hawk Moth by ARK)