The associate director of Celestial Adventures has never yet met a child who didn’t want to look through an enormous telescope.
Let’s face it, Matt Dawson has the kind of job most dream of. Together with his partner, Eric Buttini, he works part-time for a research centre in Luxembourg surveying the skies in search of new asteroids. They’ve discovered 12 to date and have named them after famous Luxembourgers. “We’re like Bruce Willis,” he laughs, “protecting the world from asteroids.”
Most people think of Dawson as a musician, but he’s been running the sky survey on a part-time basis for 11 years. “I’ve been stargazing since the age of seven when someone showed me Saturn and its rings through a telescope,” he explains, “but you can’t do it in Luxembourg because of the light pollution.”
So he took to the internet and found his good friend and Celestial Adventures co-associate director, Marc Kaschinski, just an hour’s drive across the border. “I’ve been using his telescope for the last 11 years; he built it himself as he wanted the largest in Europe. He also owns a beautifully rustic 17th century French farmhouse that he’s converted into a bed and breakfast.”
Both keen amateur astronomers, with over 100 years of stargazing to their collective credit, they are truly passionate about the skies and boast in-depth knowledge of their subject. “Our telescope is enormous and you can see some amazing stuff through it: galaxies, the rings of Saturn, the storms on Jupiter, the craters of the Moon. These are the kind of views people will remember for a lifetime,” enthuses Dawson.
The Celestial Adventures project was born and entered the Ireland Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce Innovation Contest 2016, held in May, with great results. “We’re offering the wonders of the night sky and beauty of nature in a quiet rural setting. We invite guests of all ages for an evening, weekend or holiday in our charming 17th century B&B in one of the most beautiful natural parks in France--with unforgettable views of the stars and planets, explained by experts.”
While the Innovation Contest dragons provided invaluable business advice throughout, what was the experience highlight? “The moment I looked at the dragon’s faces during my pitch and realised I had got their attention!”