Dartmoor Skies is a Charity set up by Rob and Bryony Tilsley.
We’ve lived in Buckfastleigh for 9 years and love stomping around Dartmoor. We feel very lucky to live in a beautiful place that enjoys such clear skies. Learn more about us below.
My first clear astronomy memory is looking for shooting stars during the Perseid meteor shower. We were camping in Bere Regis and as I lay back on my camping chair a massive, fiery meteor flew across the sky. I’d just seen Armageddon and Deep Impact so I thought I was going to die. I spent ages out there getting completely lost looking at all the stars. My dad had shown me a couple of constellations – the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia- but that was all I knew.
We spent years trying to learn more about space. We’d head outside with star charts, all revved up thinking we were going to work out the constellations, but once you tried looking it was impossible to figure out what was where.
Lots of people have a similar, frustrating experience. Most people we meet want to know more about the stars and planets, but knowing where to start is difficult. We want Dartmoor Skies to be a way for people to find their way into astronomy, to be a relaxed, fun way of discovering more and asking more about space.
My first memory of astronomy is being dragged out onto Dartmoor in the cold and the dark by Rob. We had a pair of binoculars on a tripod and were just looking at the moon. I huddled under multiple blankets staring at the Terminator and figuring out which crater was the Sea of Tranquility. Seeing the moon in such detail was a brilliant experience.
I knew the Big Dipper, and Ursa Minor, and I knew Orion’s Belt, but didn’t realise there was an Orion wearing the belt. My knowledge was pretty limited, but the more I found out, the more I wanted to learn.
My favourite astronomy moment so far was seeing Jupiter for the first time. Our first telescope was a Dobsonian without any kind of tracker and as I watched the planet slip out of view I had a moment where I realised that I was the object that was moving. Having that sensation of the earth spinning was fantastic.
I love stargazing and learning about space, but when I’m out in the night with a telescope set up I definitely appreciate a steaming mug of hot chocolate.