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.

6 Responses to St Martin’s Could Lead New Stargazing Initiative

  1. Adrian Davis October 28, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    The trouble is Sam L the stars we see from St Mary’s don’t seem to go to the Pub!!

  2. Jules October 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Sounds like a great idea, always talking about the stars walking back from the pub on St Martins, so much easier to see without all the light pollution on the main land

  3. Mrs E Windsor October 27, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Adam could sell them a Fish ‘n’ Chip supper as part of the experience

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins October 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Naturally I wouldn’t say no, but I shan’t be basing my next financial year on it!!!!

  4. Peter October 26, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the kind of initiative I’ve been banging on about on this messageboard for years. If Scilly is to diversify from tourism, then it has to take advantage of its isolation, and I can only think of astronomy and marine science as potential alternatives to tourism. Every other diversification proposal is flawed by Scilly’s isolation. This may only be a small start, but it’s a step in the right direction. Theo: given how you seem to want to destroy tourism on the islands by your talk of developing other industries and of moving away from tourism, perhaps you can act closer to home and, rather than negotiating pie-in-the-sky techno projects with multi-nationals from the Far East, you could support a local business and give these people lots of financial help, as it seems to be an idea with massive potential for the islands.

  5. Sam L October 26, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Fair play, sounds like a great idea in principle. But wouldn’t it be more beneficial and more popular having the observatory located on St. Marys? Unless evening boat trips and supper arrangements can be agreed with interested parties?