FOR as long as he can remember Paul Clark has been obsessed with the night sky. Now 38, the dad-of-three had his first star-gazing experience at Airdrie's observatory when he was just a boy of nine.

He remembers being entranced by the mountains and crators on the surface of the moon, seen through the town's 100-year-old telescope.

And now Paul is the curator of the Airdrie observatory - sharing his passion with school groups, astronomy enthusiasts and first-time star-gazers.

Paul said: "I remember coming to see the telescope when I was about nine-years-old. I thought that it was going to be boring but when I looked through the telescope for the first time I just thought wow'."

Airdrie has had an observatory since 1896 when local philanthropist Dr Thomas Reid offered the use of his telescope to the town. Thousands visit museum after £10m revamp

SUMMERLEE Heritage Park has reopened for less than a month but is already bustling with crowds.

In its first four days of reopening, the museum attracted 16,000 visitors - making its £10million revamp more than worthwhile.

Among the must-see exhibits on the 20-acre site are the miners' row, a series of cottages giving a snapshot of how people lived during the 1840s to 1960s.

For the brave, there's a tour down a dirftmine, showing how punishing the way of life was for miners.

The main exhibition hall features a Hillman Imp, Scotland's last production car and a fleet of steam-powered engines.

And there's Scotland's only working electric tramway, featuring the No.53, the Evening Times tram.

Free admission seven days a week makes Summerlee one of the country's favourite museums and the pride of Coatbridge.

Summerlee Heritage Park opened in 1987 on the site of the former Summerlee Ironworks.

It attracted 100,000 visitors a year before it closed in 2006 and bosses want to see 150,000 now it has reopened.

Karen Walker, from East Kilbride, and her two children have been to Summerlee three times since the reopening on September 26.

Karen says Summerlee is the "jewel of the town".

And since then the unusual attraction has seen more than 100,000 visitors, growing into the town's favourite tourist attraction.

The star-gazing site has seen many changes of location over the years but is currently housed in Airdrie Library, a C-listed neoclassical building and the oldest library in Scotland.

Amateur astronomer Paul, who runs a recruitment agency, is part of the charity Association in Scotland to Research into Astronautics (Astra).

The group, headed by Paul and colleague Duncan Lunan, have run the observatory on behalf of the library since 1977 and open it to the public on a Friday night.

Each week Astra gather to discuss the stars and planets.

And on clear nights they head up to the observatory and point the telescope towards the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The current star-gazing dome first opened in 1925 on the roof of Airdrie library.

Now a £50,000 Lottery grant has given the observatory a much-needed boost to help it continue to expand.

And the unique observatory has an avid supporter in the guise of TV presenter and amateur astronomer Patrick Moore.

Paul added: "A few years ago it looked like the observatory may have to close so I wrote to Patrick Moore. He wrote straight back, expressing his support for Airdrie's observatory.

"An Astra member runs an astronomy club at Airdrie Academy and Patrick phones from time to time to see how the kids are getting on."

For more information, visit Idyllic spot is perfect place for all ages

DAVID Closter is trying to get his newborn son to sleep.

The tiny baby has been awake and screaming for hours so David, 32, has brought him for a walk round Drumpellier Country Park.

Experience shows a few laps round the park's loch will have the three-week-old off to sleep in no time.

And while baby Lewis is arguably Drumpellier's youngest fan, he is not the only one who loves spending time there.

Drumpellier Park attracts thousands of visitors each year from across Scotland and beyond.

And it is easy to see why the greenspace to the west of Coatbridge is so popular.

Stand in the middle of Drumpellier Country Park and you could be anywhere. On all sides run busy main roads but, with 800 acres to lose yourself in, the noise of traffic is only ever a gentle hum.

Drumpellier has two natural lochs; Woodend, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the popular Lochend Loch.

There is also the £350,000 Interplay playpark - North Lanarkshire's only staffed outdoor play centre for disabled and able-bodied kids.

And the park boasts a long and varied history. It was formerly a private estate owned by the wealthy Buchanan family, who gifted it to the town in 1919.

The Drumpellier estate can be traced back to 1161 and once had the original Grange house built by the monks of Newbattle Abbey.

Assistant country parks manager Tom Gallacher said: "We're very proud of the long history of Drumpellier Country Park. People love to come here and get out in the fresh air."