Dark Sky Preserve Observation Pad season kicks off this Saturday evening

Written by  Wednesday, 09 May 2018 11:51
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Gary Colwell has some new toys including a MallinCam system that is specially designed to take pictures that aren’t fuzzy. He’s pictured here at his home observatory with his new 12” telescope along with Bear, the cosmic dachshund. Photo/Craig Bakay Gary Colwell has some new toys including a MallinCam system that is specially designed to take pictures that aren’t fuzzy. He’s pictured here at his home observatory with his new 12” telescope along with Bear, the cosmic dachshund. Photo/Craig Bakay

The North Frontenac Star Gazing Pad begins its 2018 series of events this Saturday (May 12) at dusk with The Realm of Galaxies. There should also be some good opportunities to view Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

Astronomer-in-residence Gary Colwell says there are a number of new initiatives this year.

“On May 12, I’ll be bringing a MallinCam video camera for live, in colour views of the planets and galaxies,” he said. “The MallinCam is specially designed to produce pictures so you get images that aren’t fuzzy.”

This should be advantageous this weekend when viewing the Andromeda, Dumbbell, Sombrero, Whirlpool and/or M106 galaxies. (M106 has a very luminous core and was instrumental in the development of the theory that galactic centres are supermassive black holes.)

The other news this summer is the development of a GoFundMe campaign in support of building an observatory to house the 16” telescope that was donated to North Frontenac Township by the Ottawa Centre branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

“It’s a 16” Newtonian telescope and a real light bucket,” Colwell said. “With a 12”, you can see the Orion Nebula. With a 16”, you can see colour in the Orion Nebula.

“You can see some details on Mars and the Cassini Division in the rings of Saturn.”

A 16” telescope is designed for deep sky viewing, he said.

“We’re looking at a 16’ by 20’ building with space for the telescope and people viewing,” he said. “We were hoping to have it built this summer, and still might but we’re behind where we wanted to be so we started the fundraising campaign and hope to get $20 here and $20 there.

“We’re looking for between $25,000 to $30,000 and if you make a large enough donation, we’ll name it after you.”

More details on the GoFundMe campaign are available on the Dark Skies Preserve Facebook page.

There are 11 events scheduled this summer including Sept. 1 when seven planets will be observable in one evening (Mercury being the only no-show). All of the events are scheduled to coincide with new moons.

The Observation pad is open every evening at 5816 Road 506.

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