Astronomer jets in to launch St Helena stargazing event
St Helena has welcomed Bob Bower, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Member of the British Astronomical Association, who is on island to help launch a new stargazing event.
Bob has been an amateur astronomer since 1986 and built his first telescope in the early 1960s. He co-presented a weekly astronomy programme on a Scottish radio station from 2003 – 2008 and has given talks on the night sky and history of astronomy to various organisations and societies across Scotland and England.
He is spending his two weeks on St Helena showing islanders how to use the telescopes provided by Enterprise St Helena, holding night time star-gazing sessions and introductory courses for those interested in being a stargazing tour guide as well as teaching local school children about their night sky.
His trip culminates with the launch of St Helena’s first ever stargazing event on 20 April. Taking place at Francis Plain, the event has been timed to coincide with Dark Skies Week (15 – 21 April) and International Astronomy Day (21 April).
When asked about his time so far on St Helena, Bob said:
“Where do I start! The island is absolutely brilliant. It’s everything I’ve expected and more, and I have been waiting to come here for years.
“The skies are absolutely fantastic. I moved to a remote place in Scotland for a dark sky, but even the skies in the most populated areas here on St Helena are better than the night sky I have at home. The Milky Way is so good it can be mistaken for a cloud. St Helena really does have an asset because being close to the equator we get to see 90% of the whole sky.
“Everyone is incredibly friendly and it’s much more fertile than expected, which proves that just trying to look at pictures online means nothing, it’s the atmosphere, the place and how green it is. Finally, I am so glad to be away from the snow in Scotland!”