Isles of Scilly: First 'astro-tourism' week aims to boost visitors

By Amy Gladwell
BBC News

Image source, COSMOS
Image caption, Participants learned how to take photographs of the sun in workshops

The first annual "astro-tourism" week has been held on the Isles of Scilly, with an aim to attract autumn visitors.

Scilly Dark Skies Week, which finished on Friday, was based at the St. Martin's community observatory.

The building opened in 2018 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, its first big event was delayed.

Organisers have said they are aiming to bring in more visitors outside the main summer season as well as serve the community.

Image source, Bruce Frank
Image caption, St. Martin's is about 28 miles (45km) off the south west of Cornwall
Image source, COSMOS
Image caption, Groups were taken on walks to learn about the skies over the islands

St. Martin's Astronomical Society - which funded, built and runs the observatory - was formed from discussions at the island pub "out of a collective appreciation of the wondrous dark skies on Scilly," the group said.

Anna Browne, from Community Observatory St. Martin's on Scilly (COSMOS), said the event had attracted a range of experts and was a "celebration of grassroots astronomy".

It included workshops and talks by astronomers and lecturers on astrophotography, amateur telescopes and archeoastronomy.

"It's a way for people to come to Scilly and appreciate the amazing dark skies we have here," she said.

"It's for everybody, it's for the community and an astro-tourism thing to help extend the shoulder season here."

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