Galloway Forest Park is one of the darkest places in the UK and has been awarded a Dark Sky Park designation, one of only four in the western world. Part of the development of the Johnston School will be a Dark Sky Visitor Centre open to the public promoting the park and all things astronomical. The Trust will work in partnership with the Dark Skies organisation to create a unique, educational and diverse venue which will encompass the magic of the Dark Skies yet deliver an educational outlet.
Discussions have taken place with The Glasgow Science Centre and they are very keen to work with us to develop the Visitor Centre. The planetarium at the Glasgow Science Centre is a memorable experience and we hope to incorporate some of the outstanding material into the Kirkcudbright Dark Skies experience. It is hoped we will be able to offer practical astronomy courses for schools, the community and visitors alike. The Barrhill Woods outdoor classroom offers an ideal place to hold outdoor courses, and with shelter from the lights of the town the clear skies can provide magnificent views of the stars.
With funding secured and plans all drawn out, building work begun on Johnston School in 2019 and should be finished by the end of 2020. With Covid-19 causing us delays, we are hoping to have a smash opening early to mid 2021 but more information about the opening will be released closer to the time. This project was only doable because of our funders including the Galloway Glens Project, LEADER, and the Wolfson Foundation who all committed funds to making the Dark Skies visitor centre a reality. Many other organisations also helped fund the renovations of the school in its entirety. More information about the Johnston School project can be found on its project page.