Thanks to all of the volunteers that made yesterday’s observatory opening a reality. The Mayors of Gibsons and Sechelt and Cam Reid, head of the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation were there as were Sechelt Councillors Darnelda Siegers and Darren Inkster, among other community leaders. RASC Vice President Chris Gainor was there to cheer us on. I know that the last six months have had members of the observatory team up nearly every weekend working hard. I know that this has dragged you away from your spouses and families. The volunteers that manned the information table and greeted visitors and set up canopies and directed traffic did a stellar job. We even had a black bear turn up to check out the festivities, though he left when he saw the crowd. About 60 people attended the ceremony. Past President Bill Clark was awarded a Founders Award for his service since 2004 when our club was founded.
There was some cloud at 2130 hours when the night viewing began but it gradually drifted away to the east and we got good views of the moon, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, M57, M13, M81, M51, and Mizar. Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne returned to view the skies with us and some members who hadn’t been able to attend the opening ceremony also turned up. Our Treasurer Bruce Fryer arrived with a group of young foreign visitors for last nights viewing session. One of them, a young Iranian male, came to me as we were approaching closing time and said:
“Thank you for the wonderful gift of this experience. I will never forget this evening.”
That statement was a wonderful gift for me and for all of us who created that experience.
Neil Sandy, who operated the telescope for visitors that evening, had this to report:
“I am pleased to say that our clubs 14 inch telescope and mounting worked flawlessly last night with excellent tracking and goto performance with most every object appearing right near the center of the eyepiece field.
“Although I had been on site prior to last night to familiarize myself with the hand controllers functions last night was really my first time using the telescope and the observatory under the nighttime sky. The building itself is a magnificent structure far beyond what I had foreseen as the final result way back when first proposed. The design, construction and finishing, inside and out, is all first class. The Solar panel and electrical system installation would put NASA to shame… The scope and mount are top quality.
“Having some enthusiastic first timers out last night really was fun. As Charles mentioned one of the visitors said as he departed that this was the best night of his life… and I could see he really meant it. Stepping out through the observatory door onto the deck is a wonderful experience. With the deck being elevated you stand just above the bush line so you are able to clearly hear all the sounds of nature around you. The sky is expansive from here, better than from the ground below and the stars form a canopy that stretches from horizon to horizon. I have always said that as much as I like to look
through a telescope the best view of all is just an open sky with just the naked eye. Last night was a great experience and with lots more to come. I truly hope that every member will come out at least once to experience it for themselves.
“Thanks to the observatory team and volunteers for making this all happen.”
You should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished.
You can check out more photos of the event here.
Charles Ennis, President