Leigh Venus

Chief Executive

"Everyone knew that stars were points of light. If they weren’t, some would be visibly bigger than others. Some were fainter than others, of course, but that was probably due to clouds. In any case their purpose, according to established Discworld law, was to lend a little style to the night." - Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld.

A lapsed geneticist, I’ve worked across the North East culture and heritage sector since 2009.

As Heritage Development Manager for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), I looked after museums and heritage assets across the north, acting as a specialist advisor for heritage and lining up our activity with the broader long-term strategic planning of the RNLI.

Previously, I led the direction and development of the revived Jarrow Hall museum and heritage site and directed operations at Tyneside Cinema through a period of massive redevelopment.

Currently, I’m a trustee for both the Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust and London’s Vagina Museum and was formerly the chair of contemporary dance company Fertile Ground.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been mesmerised by the night sky and our place in the universe. One of my leaving gifts from an old role was a ticket for Kielder Observatory, and on the night I was full of anticipation as I waited to go outside, hot chocolate in hand, already captivated by the team telling me what I was about to see.

My only criticism is that they didn’t prepare me enough. Walking outside and looking up at an awe-inspiring, crystal-clear night sky full of millions of points of scintillating light, I was left awestruck by my first visit to Kielder Observatory.

Now, as CEO, I’m proud to be custodian of this very special place, and to work with our great team creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to experience moments of inspiration, revelation, wonder and hope through observing the cosmos.

  • Favourite Naked Eye Object: Venus
  • Favourite Deep Sky Object: Newborn star HH 211
  • Favourite Astronomer: Henrietta Leavitt