Hello and welcome to the home of the "Salisbury Starparty".
My name's Darren Kitson and I am the founder, host, entertainer of the Salisbury Party but over time you will get to call me your friend, I hope.
I as a child, as im sure most of you did, looked at the stars with amazement, awe and wonder, and pondered on the wonders of the night sky. Well, it was only in 2007 when I was 27 that I decided to buy my first telescope, a Celestron SLT 114 which I still own and use to this very day. I remember getting it out for the first time and wondering whats sights I would see. I was lucky enough that Saturn was the first of many and it still doesnt dissappoint me to this day.
Shortly after I got hooked on astronomy, I joined one of the UK's largest astronomy forums and my wealth of knowledge just grew and grew. It was so difficult just talking to people on the forum and very hard to imagine what they looked like and how they sounded and wanted to see if there were any events that catered for astronomers and our hobby. As you all know Kelling and Kielder are now the most popular Starparties in the UK. For me, and im sure for some of you too, this is some trek to get to either of these events. So I looked for any that the forum might hold or be able to tell me that were closer and as it turned out they were hosting one shortly after I joined. So off I went on my little adventure. It was in Wales and the weather in the Breacons was wind and rain and my tent soon got flooded as im sure you'd have guessed. This didnt dampen my spirit but Wales was still quite a way for me to go, so I came up with the idea of just trying to find a campsite with good views and basic facilities that was closer to me and many others.
I did find somewhere, it was called summerlands, on the outskirts of Salisbury (about 8 miles out) run by a lovely elderly couple, only problem was, I'd arranged it at the same time as the Kelling Heath Starparty and only 4 people turned up. Still, we had one clear night out of 3 and when it rained or clouded over we played cards, had a few drinks, learnt new things about our equipment and about astronomy too and I left having made new friends. Here, the "Salisbury Star Party" was born.
Word soon spread across the Forum that the few people that did turn up had "a blast" as they put it, they said it was fun, relaxed and that nobody thought they were better then anyone else ( which is the idea behind the event ) and others were intrigued and became interested and I was asked if there would be another one. So, sure enough, we did it again and again and again and AGAIN and now 2011 see's its 5th Annual Salisbury Star Party.
It's no longer held at Summerlands, as of 2009 it just grew too big for the 20 pitch campsite and we needed a new location. Luckily just 9 miles down the road was a beautiful little village called Six Penny Handley and this has been home to SSP since.
Last year saw the Event surpass anyones expectations, with Astronomy now magazine doing a 3 page spread on the event, Hogroasts for evening dinner on the saturday night, Imaging workshops and talks by well known astronomers and to put the icing on the cake, BBC Sky at night magazine filmed on location for one of their Vodcast episodes. The event saw a staggering 62 pitches booked and well over 120 people in total and this year and in the future, I hope YOU can make it even more succesful.
On the 28th June 2009 my mum passed away from Cancer and as off 2010 this event was dedicated to my mum and all those who are either suffering from or who have passed away from this terrible disease. May her memory live on in SSP.
If you would like to make a donation to help fight this disease then please click on the DONATE button below.
Thankyou for your time and I hope to see you at the next Salisbury Starparty.
All the Best