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
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.