THE sky is the limit for the first in a series of 200th anniversary celebrations for the listed chapel at the National Trust’s Gibside estate. The landmark, near Rowlands Gill, was completed in 1812 after work began in the 1760s.
On Monday it will be part of the BBC Stargazing Live! venture, when the solar system will be projected on to the building’s domed ceiling.
Themed music will be provided by the North East’s SoundPower Orchestra, featuring 35 musicians.
The orchestra’s musical director George Hastings, who lives in Lanchester, County Durham, has composed a new piece of music for the event, inspired by the night sky and the wonders of astronomy.
This will be performed by the orchestra along with other pieces on a space theme, many from the world of film and TV, including music from Star Wars, ET, 2001 Space Odyssey and Star Trek.
There will also be stalls connected with a night theme and wildlife at night forays by Trust rangers.
More than 2,000 people have applied for the 500 tickets available for the event.
It is the latest unusual use for the chapel, which has staged the BBC’s Mastermind programme.
Work on the chapel was started by Gibside estate owner George Bowes and serves as a mausoleum.
It was the first part of Gibside to be acquired by the Trust. With the estate in decline, the Trust restored the building in 1965 and acquired the chapel in 1974.
Gibside visitor experience manager Emily Bryce said: “There has been huge demand for what will be a fantastic event which has caught people’s imaginations.
“We have always wanted to try something like a planetarium on the domed ceiling.
“The chapel was the beginning of the National Trust at Gibside and this event will be a starting point for our celebrations.”
Other Stargazing events in the North East include:
:: Tonight – A talk on human space exploration” by Robert Naylor, and observations run by Northumberland Astronomical Society at Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland. Fully booked.
:: Tonight and tomorrow – A Big Universe event and observations Kielder Observatory, Kielder Water.
:: Tomorrow – an evening at Bamburgh Castle from 7.30pm-9.30pm led by Dr Adrian Jannetta a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Northumberland Astronomical Society.
:: The event has been organised in conjunction with the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership. To book contact 01670 534059 .
:: Saturday, January 21 – a Nightwatch event at Hamsterley Forest near Bishop Auckland. Book on 01434 220242.
:: Saturday, January 21 – St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, 6pm.
:: South Tyneside Astronomical Society will provide powerful telescopes along to give participants the opportunity to view the night sky and there will be a Planetarium show.