THE future of South Tyneside College's planetarium and obs-ervatory has been secured – with a move outside the borough.
All existing equipment will be relocated to Stockton Borough Council's Wynyard Planetarium and Observatory in Teesside.
Stargazers in South Tyneside today welcomed the move, but expressed disappointment that the much-loved facility could not be kept in the borough.
Keen astronomer David Keedy, from Mortimer Road, South Shields, a former member of South Shields Astronomical Society, said: "It is good to know it is going to be put to use.
"I am happy that it is moving, rather than being scrapped altogether, but what about South Tyneside?
"It could still be put to educational use.
The planetarium and observatory have been used by marine students to
learn about navigation for more than 20 years, but the college said it longer meets the needs of the curriculum.
Gary Hindmarch, head of the Marine College at South Tyneside College, said: "After many months of research, we are delighted to announce we've found a new home for our much-loved planetarium and observatory.
"All existing equipment will be relocated to Wynyard Planetarium and Observatory, ensuring that this valuable facility remains in North East England.
"Due to advances in technology, it is more than 20 years since the planetarium and observatory was used for its original purpose – to teach navigation to marine students.
"As the facilities no longer support our curriculum, we are unable to incorporate them into our new build plans and were concerned that they would be lost as a usable resource.
"However, after working closely with the South Shields Astronomical Society, Cleveland and Darlington Astronomical Society and other specialist groups, we have been able to secure the future of the facility.
"At its new home, it will be able to provide enjoyment and education for many years to come.
"As yet we do not have a date when the equipment will be relocated, but we are anticipating that this will take place sometime next year."