AN observatory in Powys says it will be forced to curtail its programme of free community stargazing events following the theft of thousands of pounds of expensive equipment.

The Elan Valley Trust said that around £3,000 worth of equipment was stolen from a remote building on the estate used to take in the stunning night skies over Powys.

Equipment stolen between July 21 and 28 included binoculars and eye pieces.

“We lost nearly £3,000 of equipment, including binoculars and eye pieces used in providing outreach events for the International Dark Sky Park of the Elan Valley,” said Charlotte Harley, the trust’s estate manager.

County Times:  Evening shot of Foel Tower in Elan Valley. Picture by Mick Pleszkan Evening shot of Foel Tower in Elan Valley. Picture by Mick Pleszkan

“Most of the events we run are free of charge and there to enhance people’s enjoyment and understanding of the night sky. Short term, we will have to curtail upcoming outreach due to these losses.

“The shelter is only utilised for events due to its remote location. There isn’t general public access.

“We aim to keep events happening but we have less gear available so numbers may be less or less interactive during the event as more people have to ‘take a turn’ and we are relying on the goodwill of staff and volunteers to continue.”

The thefts come at an unfortunate time for dark skies enthusiasts, with the most spectacular meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, occurring next week. The new moon falls on August 16 and the full moon occurs twice: on August 1 and 31.

August is considered a fantastic time of year where the night skies are rich with nebulae and star clusters, and the Elan Valley Dark Skies Team had planned on hosting an event to see the Perseids, on Saturday, August 12. It is unclear if this will now go ahead.


Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating the burglary, which occurred at a stargazing observatory building located on the top of Tynllidiart Hill in the Elan Valley, near Rhayader.

The following items were stolen from the property: 25mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepieces x3; 11mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepieces x3; 40mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepieces x1; Astro Essentials Cheshire collimating eyepiece x1; Baader UHC-S filter x Sky-Watcher Evostar (telescope) 120 with EQ3-2 mount x1; Sky-Watcher Skyliner 250PX Dobsonian (telescope) x1; Helios Stellar-II 50mm WP binoculars x5.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation, or anyone who has been offered the opportunity to purchase such items, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at, by emailing or by calling 101. Quote reference: DP-20230728-14.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit

When to see the Perseid meteor shower in Powys

The Perseid meteor shower is expected to be a great one this year, peaking on the late night of August 12 and into the early morning of Sunday, August 13.

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The waxing crescent moon sets at around 7.25pm, which will provide the perfect dark skies to watch the most spectacular meteor shower of the year.

Radiating from the constellation of Perseus, you don’t have to look in that direction as the shooting stars appear anywhere in the sky. As these dust particles, thought to be the debris of comet swift/tuttle hit our atmosphere, the speed of the object plus the friction with our atmosphere causes the meteoroids to heat up and catch fire, leaving persistent trains and even a smoky tail.

It is believed that 150 meteors per hour during the peak time may be seen.