Children in Wales are fortunate enough to live beneath some of the darkest skies in the UK, and who better to inspire the next generation to get out and take advantage of these unique night-time views than a real-life astronaut?
This was indeed the case for a group of pupils from Swansea’s Sea View Primary School, as astronaut Tim Peake treated them to a stargazing session in the Gower Peninsula.
The astronaut, who, in 2015, became the first British space explorer to visit the International Space Station, hosted an astronomy session with a small group of students under some of the darkest skies of the year at Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn.
The six budding scientists wrapped up warm and huddled together to discover how to spot the constellations that make up the Milky Way, neighbouring planets in our solar system and even another galaxy- Andromeda.
Discussing how learning about the stars and our solar system encourages children to dream big, Tim said, “Not all young people have the same access to dark skies, but it’s so important to look up to the stars and be inspired for the future, to understand why we need to protect the planet and to ask the big questions about life.”
Wales boasts some of the darkest, clearest and most unpolluted skies in the world, with a network of three International Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks that are recognised by astronomers as world-beating places to stargaze. There are further great star-sighting places dotted throughout the country, from small and accessible Dark Sky Discovery Sites to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Along with being the first UK astronaut to board the International Space Station, Tim has also run the London Marathon from Space, and also publicly wished the people of Wales a Happy St David’s Day from aboard the International Space Station in 2016.
To find out more about stargazing in Wales, see our article on the best dark sky spots in Wales.