We lived near Kielder for fourteen years. It is close to Riccarton Junction and Kikarin’s house, called Waterside in the novel, is based upon our old cottage.
Since we lived there however they have built the Kielder Dark Skies Observatory, which we recently visited. It made a huge impact upon me.
In the course of our visit we were shown an image of the Hubble Deep Field. I had heard of it but astronomy isn’t really my thing and although we frequently observed the bright stars in the sky when we lived there and would look out for planets like red Mars and comets like Hale-Bopp, that was the extent of my interest. It exists; it is amazing but completely incomprehensible. But Hubble Deep Field changed that; quite possibly changed my ideas about astronomy, astrology, God, life on earth, &c, &c. When they built the Hubble telescope they could receive much better images of the galaxies such as the Milky Way and our solar system but someone, somewhere wondered what might be beyond all that and just pointed the telescope at deep space. Nothing appeared. They left the camera running for day after day [eleven days in fact] and began to assume that there was nothing else out there, that what we already knew was all there was to know. Then, the Deep Field appeared; the image contained an estimated 10,000 galaxies. Just incredible. From assuming there was nothing else in space, to ten thousand galaxies.
Later, when the technology evolved and they located Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, yet more galaxies came into view and later still, when they pointed the telescope in the other direction [Hubble Deep Field South] they discovered another ten thousand galaxies.
Cant think there is a ‘God’ behind any of this, but then again I never did. But I used to be fairly convinced by the theories behind astrology, that the moon influences the tides and the seasons and sometimes our emotions and the sun and the planets hold some measure of influence and that maybe, just maybe the stars in our galaxy have some tiny, tiny effect on our lives. But no more. Hubble Deep Field is simply too overwhelming for any of that.