This month we have some excellent news. Last Wednesday, Victoria Centre Council voted unanimously to submit a proposal to NRC Herzberg that Victoria Centre host a series of Saturday openings of the Observatory this summer. These openings are in addition to night sky viewing on Astronomy Day, May 3, also hosted by us (with the assistance of NRC staff), and the GA 2014 Welcome BBQ, to be held Thursday, June 26, at the observatory. We are optimistic that our proposal will be looked at favourably. It is hoped that this summer “pilot project” lead to a more permanent arrangement with us, the NRC, and other groups taking over functions and activities lost with the closing of this landmark.
This proposal is the result of the hard work of several Council Members, led by Lauri Roche, who are part of the “Short Term Working Group for the Reopening of the Observatory” which was formed at a community meeting held last November, thanks to the efforts of MLA Lana Popham and Don Moffett. At the time of that meeting, which was held at the Herzberg, and was attended by NRC staff and administration, we hoped both that the Centre of the Universe or the DAO, or both, might be reopened in some form, and that there would be a role for us similar to what we had done in the past, both near, and distant, in terms of public outreach and education on the hill.
It will be proposed that the Observatory be open for seven Saturday evenings, three in each of July and August, and one in September. The Observatory will be open for tours to be conducted, eventually, by our members. Other members of our group will be outside with the usual telescopes, weather permitting. We will propose that four members will be on the hill on each of these openings, and that a small group of us be trained to open and close the observatory, and operate the telescope.
There are still hurdles to be cleared, and matters to be discussed even if our proposal is accepted, but this first step is vital, and is the most important one. This could turn into a “flagship” activity for our club. If you are interested in helping with this program, please let us know.