Dark Skies in
Observatory Opening
The observatory idea was first raised in 2007, a big challenge, that the "Friends", however accepted. Many discussions with Park
and Government Officials followed. At one point the Government was on board to cover the majority of costs on a much larger
project. Drawings were commissioned, however the project fell victim to the economic down turn. In 2010 the Friends realized
that they were on their own and would have to do what they could afford, with perhaps minimal help from the Government. While
discussions were going on, time was passing, fundraising was continuing and the Friends felt that they needed to start the
project if they were ever going to see an observatory built. The decision was made, in the fall of 2010, to proceed with a 16 foot
standalone observatory and a 32 foot diameter yurt as the classroom.
Construction started in late fall of 2010 with the foundation for the pier and a separate foundation for the building. During the
winter months that followed a construction schedule using volunteer help was planned and research of a dome, yurt and
equipment was conducted. The dome (Ash Dome) was ordered for delivery in May 2011 and a Yurt from Yurtco in BC was
ordered for delivery in June of 2011.
The group of 4, sometimes 6 volunteers hired a local carpenter to give them a hand during start up to make sure that the 18
sided building would actually accept a round dome. Success, all went well and the buildings were completed in time for the
August 25, 2011 Official Opening. The Grand opening had been scheduled in spring to coincide with the annual star party held
by the Regina and Saskatoon chapters of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The opening saw approximately 400
attendees, all were very appreciative of what had been accomplished and the vision that had come to fruition.
During the fall and winter of 2011 the volunteers constructed an "Honor Wall" and installed equipment that connects the
observatory to the yurt classroom. The equipment includes a Mallincam color video ccd camera for the Celestron 14" telescope
and an Epson interactive short throw projector for the classroom.
The programming of Astronomical programs, public viewing and responsibility for the use of the facilities have been turned over
to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Interpreters. The intent is to arrange for an Astronomer in Residence program as well as
additional astronomers. The planning of these programs is done annually please follow the link below to the Park's website for
up to date information.