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Wairarapa Business Award for Under the Stars

November 11, 2019 November 2019 No Comments

For “Under the Stars” astro-tourism guide Becky Bateman it was a shock to win the Wairarapa “Emerging Business” award in mid-October for her fledgling star-gazing venture.

Running the only “nomadic” star-gazing/guiding business in Wairarapa is literally that: running from location to location to help people understand and interpret the wondrous dark skies which stretch above the region. 

The dark sky advocate who started her business a year ago says that from childhood in England she has always had an easy affinity with science and astronomy.

So much so that when after seven years at Wellington’s Space Place the opportunity to live and work under Wairarapa’s dark sky came up, she grabbed it with both hands.

Becky Bateman says she has never lost her sense of wonder at the vast scale of the universe. 

“It puts things in perspective. If I am having a really bad day I just look at the sky and think, ‘You know, I am only a tiny, tiny object in the entire universe, I’ll go buy some chocolate’.”

She has her own powerful portable telescope, which enables her to present the sky, stars and space at vineyards, hotels, museums, and schools.

She also sets up astronomy sessions in home back yards. “People are amazed about what they can see from their own gardens!”

“I’ve started to use the words nomadic star-gazer because that’s exactly what I am. I go everywhere. I’ve always been focused on how to communicate the joys of science to people, and how marvellous science really is.”

A key element of her work involves collaborating with John Whitby’s Star Field at Ruakokoputuna. There, impeccable dark skies, laser pointers to highlight stars, star clouds, constellations, nebulae and other sky features as well as large Dobsonian telescopes for deeper sky viewing, help her bring the skies to life.

  Becky Bateman says she takes delight in opening peoples’ eyes to the wonders of the night sky.

She notes winter is one of the best times to see the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere because we look into the core of the Milky Way when Matariki (the Pleiades or Seven Sisters) appear on the horizon in the morning, marking the start of the Māori New Year.

As well as running the only nomadic stargazing service in the Wairarapa, she is a Martinborough Dark Sky Society committee member, writes a monthly stargazing column in the Martinborough Star and appears on local radio.

Becky Bateman www.underthestars.co.nz   

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