THE mysteries of space will be brought closer to home with events at the University of York’s Astrocampus.

Created by the Department of Physics, the Astrocampus provides a unique venue for people of all ages to study the universe.

After the official opening last night, a star-filled programme of school activities and public observing evenings is due to begin in earnest with the appointment of a new outreach officer.

Yesterday’s official launch saw about 400 local children take part in workshops such as rocket-making, go on a virtual journey through the universe in an inflatable planetarium called a cosmodome, and find out how the Sun works, in a sundome.

Later on in the evening, a space exhibition gave people the chance to take a tour of the facility and attend a lecture by Dr Andrew Pontzen, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at University College London, who asked: ‘Does dark matter really exist?’ Katherine Leech, outreach officer from the Department of Physics, said: “We are really excited to be able to share the awe and wonder of space with local people of all ages, and have organised a fun-filled day and evening of hands-on activities for everyone to enjoy.”

The Astrocampus houses the Meade 14-inch, ten-inch and eight-inch telescopes in its two purpose-built observatories, as well as a solar telescope for observing the Sun safely, and radio telescopes for looking into the skies by day or night.

Any community group or school interested in arranging a special visit to the York Astrocampus can contact Katherine Leech on 01904 322 209 or via email

Monthly observing evenings will run from the end of March to September.

Weekly observing evenings will start in October and continue over the winter months. Visit to book a free place.