More than 20 tourism operators turned up to the first ‘Diamonds in the Sky’ workshop, jointly hosted by Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and the University of Glamorgan, providing an introduction to astronomy to help them engage with the night skies and market their business to other keen star gazers.
With the remaining winter nights unusually clear, the eager stargazers were treated to a journey through time by Allan Trow from the University of Glamorgan, who spoke about the stars, lost civilizations and the myths and legends of the night sky. With Mars clearly visible in our skies at the moment a short film was also shown about the legends and myths surrounding Mars right up to the present day findings from NASA with discoveries of huge dust storms, volcanoes, giant valleys and polar caps. And if having the creation of the universe right in their sights weren’t enough, guests were treated to a fabulous journey around the planetarium constellations and were then asked to go outside and see if they could spot the constellations for themselves. Once outside, stargazers were able to see spectacular views of Mars, glimpses of Orion, Taurus, Ursa Major, Gemini, Sirius, Pleiades, Cassiopeia, and even a small meteor!
Carol Williams, Tourism Growth Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park is one of the darkest areas in Europe and offers a unique opportunity for accommodation businesses to engage with amateur astronomers in Wales and the rest of the UK. We are incredibly grateful to the University of Glamorgan, and in particular Allan Trow for helping us organise this fabulous series of star gazing events in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.
“We’ve undertaken some research and discovered that around ¼ million people in the UK are interested in astronomy so it makes perfect sense to give our local tourism businesses as much help as we can to market the wonderfully dark and starry nights in the National Park. Light pollution is becoming more and more of a problem for eager astronomers based in our cities. We will continue to work very closely with the University of Glamorgan to attract visitors who are interested in astronomy to areas of the National Park that have outstanding and uninterrupted views of the night skies without the nuisance of light pollution.”
Allan Trow of the University of Glamorgan and project leader for Dark Sky Wales also agreed that the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park is the perfect location to view the night sky. He said: “The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park offers those astronomical minded individuals a fantastic opportunity to glimpse some of the darkest skies in the UK. The view of the Milky Way is breathtaking and the prospect of glimpsing many deep sky objects will inspire many to stay and enjoy the area with its wealth of natural beauty once the sun rises.”
The next course is fully booked but another star gazing course is being planned for 11th May 7pm-9.30pm at Llangors Community Centre. All tourism related businesses are welcome.
For further information on star gazing in the National Park please contact Carol Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01874 620 478