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Starling seeking astronomy followers

Recruitment drive: Jonathan Starling hopes to interect with like-minded individuals (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An environmentalist has stars in his eyes, and wants to recruit other people who share a passion for astronomy for a new club.

Jonathan Starling said he launched the Bermuda Astronomical Society on Facebook this year, but later found there had been a group in Bermuda with the same name.

He added: “After I created the page, I was trying to send the link to someone and stumbled across an article from The Royal Gazette about the death of the president of the Bermuda Astronomical Society.

“I didn’t even know that they existed.

“I have tried to track down the people who were involved and I sent a couple messages saying they could take over the Facebook page if they like and I would like to join, but I haven’t heard back from anyone.”

Mr Starling, executive director of environmental charity Greenrock, said his love of the night sky was sparked when he was a child by science-fiction bedtime stories.

He added: “When I was a kid, my father used to read bedtime stories for my brother and I, but his idea of bedtime stories was Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagan.

“He also used to read us the Greek myths, so he would point out the stars and tell us the story of Orion.”

He said he regained his interest last year after he moved to a new house.

Mr Starling said: “I didn’t have anything hooked up and I didn’t have my books moved yet.

“I was sitting in the backyard with the lights off looking at the stars and it rekindled that interest I had forgotten.”

He added that since he had launched the Facebook page, he had convinced three people from overseas with an interest in astronomy to visit the island.

Mr Starling said: “They were trying to decide between Bermuda and the Bahamas, but after seeing my page they want to come to Bermuda because they know it’s good for stargazing.

“We are very lucky here. In Hamilton there is some light pollution, but if you go out to Cooper’s Island or Ireland Island, it is just fantastic.

“From New York, you can’t see the stars, so if we can get some people who want to come to Bermuda for that, it’s great.”

Mr Starling added astronomers were able to enjoy a number of sights in the night sky last week.

He said: “It has been s great time to see Mars. It’s closer to Earth than it has been in decades. It’s in the southern sky at the moment, and you can recognise it because it’s reddish orange.

“You can also see Venus in the northwest in the beginning of the night. Then, you have Jupiter and Saturn. It’s really beautiful to see all of the planets out at one time.

“We also had the blood moon and, while we couldn’t really see the eclipse here, it was still beautiful.”

Mr Starling added: “I’m looking forward to the Perseid meteor shower, which will last several days, but August 17 is expected to be the main night.”