With four planets in alignment and the Lyrid meteor shower on display – the Trecastle Dark Skies event was a real hit for star gazers and astronomers across Wales on Friday evening – despite the cloudy weather.
With support through Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s Rural Alliances project, the Upper Usk Valley teamed up with Dark Sky Wales to host a free informative star gazing event at Trecastle Community Hall and chapel for locals and visitors to learn more about the sky over ahead. There was a pop-up planetarium, a planet quiz trail and informative talks on the Herschel Family and their huge contribution to astronomy. Such was the anticipation of the event that all the free tickets were booked weeks in advance, even the additional session which was added thanks to the demand.
Rural Alliances is a transnational project funded through the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and with Welsh Government support. It supports businesses and communities working together to improve rural vibrancy.
Sharon Millar, a Dark Skies National Park Ambassador and secretary of the Upper Usk Valley group said “Even though the sky was cloudy we were able to use the pop up planetarium, the turnout has been wonderful with adults and children alike learning more about our dark skies. As well as local residents attending visitors from further afield made a dedicated visit to the event.”
“The alliance would like to give thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the event a success in particular Eddie Mahoney and his soldiers from Sennybridge camp who turned up early on Thursday morning to assemble the marquee behind Trecastle community hall and also to David and Nathan for laying a floor for the pop up planetarium.”
The Upper Usk Valley is both scenically beautiful during the day and during the night. Well known locally for being the perfect location to look up at the stars, it has the ideal combination of being easy to travel to and away from the intrusive glare of light pollution. This was confirmed recently when the Usk reservoir was declared a Dark Sky Discovery Site making the Upper Usk Valley officially one of the darkest places in the park with two Dark Skies discovery sites in the area, the second being Crai village.
The Upper Usk Valley Rural Alliance is formed of local volunteers who are dedicated to the promotion of social, economic, cultural and environmental vibrancy within the Upper Usk Valley, an area which encompasses Trecastle, Sennybridge, Defynnog, Crai, Heol Senni, Llandeilo’r Fân and Pentrebach. As well as this event the group have created a series of walking leaflets giving historical information about the villages and will also be holding an event as part of the Agincourt 600 Cymru event. New members are always welcome therefore please see their website for future meeting dates www.upperuskvalley.co.uk or search Upper Usk Valley on facebook.
The event has been made possible with funding from the Rural Alliances project which is 50% funded by the ERDF Interreg IVB North West Europe Programme and the Welsh Government’s Targeted Match Fund. The project contributes to a more cohesive EU society as it derives from a co-operation of people from different countries working on common issues that touch the lives of EU citizens. The transnational project involves twelve different partners from Wales, Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.