St Martin’s Could Lead New Stargazing Initiative

dark skies 2A group of islanders is assessing the potential for a new tourist attraction to make the most of our unpolluted night skies.

St Martin’s residents are hoping to create a permanent observatory.

There’s never been a fixed site for stargazing on the islands but in the 1990s the late Pete Hobson secured grant funding for a telescope, which was taken out on location on St Mary’s.

Before that, there had been astronomy sessions at the Woolpack Battery.

David Jackson of the Islands’ Partnership says the tourism body supports the initiative “in principle” and says that new grant funding sources will soon be available for small “oven ready” projects like this.

St Martin’s Vineyard owner Val Thomas suggests that a facility could have a strong link with education.

Val says the project is at an early stage and a site hasn’t been finalised, but discussions will continue on the island.

Scilly is recognised as a good place for stargazing.

Back in October 2012 five new national Dark Sky Discovery sites were announced in collaboration with the UK Dark Sky Discovery Partnership.

It’s made up of astronomy groups led by the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and accredits spots that are both relatively accessible and excellent for stargazing.

Scilly locations listed by the organisation include the Garrison playing field on St Marys, St Agnes cricket pitch, Bryher community centre, Tresco playing fields and St Martin’s cricket pitch.

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