QUINAN , YARMOUTH COUNTY - Big things are underway at the Deep Sky Observatory in Quinan for 2019.
Tim and Amanda Doucette are adding to the star-gazing adventures they offer with skybubbles and a cabin on property that overlooks the scenic Quinan River.
The inflatable skybubbles are positive pressure-filled units that provide more space and light than conventional tents. Most importantly, the huge transparent dome on top allows a clear view of the galaxy from inside, where one can view the stars from their bed.
“The minute I saw these I thought, that’s what we want, right there,” said Tim Doucette.
Target date for opening that sector of the property is May 1, 2019. Bookings are being taken in the new year.
Doucette says the main objective of future development is focusing on the uniqueness of what exists. Plans include an eight-foot expansion to have a larger presentation area in the observatory, motorizing the dome and increasing its size from nine to 12 feet.
The telescope obtained for the viewing has proven to be a great fit for the job.
“It’s a Celestron C14 Edge HD with a Celestron CGE Pro mount, altogether about 300 pounds of gear. It’s a good little bit of kit,” said Doucette.
Magnification provides the equivalent of a 4,000-mm camera lens and collects about 3,000 times more light than the human eye.
Doucette hopes to eventually equip the telescope with a social media interface, allowing online visitors to request the unit to focus and photograph particular stars, planets or galaxies.
Reservations for visiting the observatory have been steady and people enjoy an educational experience on site.
“We want people to take their time, look through the telescope, ask questions.
“Sometimes we have to work with people for five… 10 minutes before they see something and we can always tell when they can’t, then click, and it’s ‘Oh my God!’” he laughed.
The rings around Saturn can be seen quite easily as well as cloud bands, moons and the great red spot on Jupiter on good nights.
Brenda Tate, Doucette’s friend and an avid star-gazer, has been assisting Doucette by writing a blog and with tours, including the Star Party that took place on Sept. 15 as part of the South West Nova Starlight Festival.
Close to 170 attended and even though the fog moved in early, people enjoyed the event.
There was a moon impact crater experience, solar observing, an introduction to the “Wondrous Night Sky” by astronomy author John Read, a barbecue fundraiser by the Quinan Fire Department, a paddle board demo by East Coast Paddle and try-out by the river, a bonfire with storytelling by the Métis community and more.