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About

Thunder Bay Observatory
Experience / Skills 

Our astronomer, shares his  25 years of Astronomy experience and his 10 years experience operating the Thunder Bay Observatory along with his formal background in Computer Science, Physics, International Business and Economic Development.  Over the last 10 years in operation, the observatory has had more then 5000 people tour the facility from all over the world.    Programming has been developed to educate and entertain young and old on a variety of subjects, from the basics of Astronomy and Space, to the  history of astronomy, to intermediate physics subjects such as light, gravity, to advanced  Cosmology subjects such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

CONTENT

 Over the last 10 years in operation, the observatory has had more then 5000 people tour the facility from all over the world.    Programming has been developed to educate and entertain on a variety of subjects, from the basics of Space and history of astronomy, to intermediate physics subjects such as light, gravity, to advanced  Cosmology subjects such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy.  Extensive Content and programming is currently available and is constantly being expanded.

FACILITY

Thunder Bay Observatory offers one of the few locations in North America dedicated to public access of professional astronomical equipment. The facility is in constant development. The main Observatory is a 16' dome initially designed to host a 24" telescope (eventually), as part of a long term plan. It is able to host 25 people at a time. The more recent Observatory added, is a smaller, automated observatory detected to large format imaging and research.

The observatory is funded solely by me, while 100% of the community support (usages fees, donations, educational contracts..etc) are reinvested back into the facility to expand the offerings back to the community.

EQUIPMENT

The facility currently host a number of telescopes including 16" LX200R advanced optics telescope. This telescope is the 4th telescope in a long term plan to eventually house a 24" telescope. Negotiations have been underway for the last year to upgrade the current telescope to #5 the 20" Advanced Optic Di-optic telescope.

The observatory also offers a variety of professional imaging and research equipment, automation equipment, and more recently the All-sky camera, and in the works a Radio Telescope. It also provides video and remote viewing equipment to further enhance the experience.

Recent improvements to the operation has now pushed the limitations of the equipment to new limits. In recent weeks I was able to push the limit of the equipment to almost 2,000,000 times fainter then the human eye. The number of stellar objects now in reach of the equipment is in the order of 1 billion objects.


IMAGING EQUIPMENT

Thunder Bay Observatory has many cameras currently in operation.  Our main camera is a Class 1 scientific CCD camera boosting a 90% quantum efficiency.  Other cameras provide a variety of functions when operated on one of the many telescopes.  These cameras provide live video or live images of faint and distant objects   Visitors can enjoy the live feed in the Cosmic Theater, or can capture images to take home during their visit.

LOCATION

The observatory 15 kms south of Thunder Bay on the side of small mountain range. The distance from Thunder Bay and oriented south and on a mountain are ideal locations for an observatory. The primary direction of interest is south and is untainted by light pollution from the city. 85% of the remainder of the sky is unaffected by the cities light pollution.

In 2005 I approached the City of Thunder Bay with a plan to implement more light pollution friendly lights. They agreed that as lights are replace they would implement full cutoff lights in non-intersection areas to further reduce the affects of Light Pollution.

The location is ideal for large groups with plenty of parking, and summer camp out areas for people to enjoy the sky for the entire night.

PURPOSE

The primary reasons the observatory was constructed are:

1) to provide locals and visitors with a unique educational and entertaining experience, something "different" to do while in Thunder Bay

2) to educate and inspire our youth, to enjoy science, to bring the universe to them

3) to provied a give more advanced users the opportunity to advance their Astronomy Knowledge and contribute to international efforts.

4) to enhance the Tourism economy of Thunder Bay and surrounding area

OPERATION

The Facility operates almost every clear night of the year, with exception the to period around summer solstice where our northern latitude experiences about 4 weeks of no darkness. During this time I perform the annual maintenance. Access to the equipment is by appointment or during public open houses. A lecture theater on site seats as many as 50 people and boost a 16' High Def Screen for educational talks and lectures.

Observatories are not heated, as the hot air distorts views, however a Heated Control room is used to control the telescope and used for those doing research and imaging work.

 

PARTNERS

Over the last 8 years the facility has established a number of relationships with many organizations both locally and internationally. This includes Tourism associations, local hotels, all the local school boards, the post secondary facilities, school boards from other jurisdictions, other observatories from as far away as Australia. It has established partnerships with profession astronomical or research organizations, astronomical organizations, suppliers...etc

The plans to construct the observatory was presented to the local RASC prior to construction and has maintained a standing offer to the local chapter for free and unlimited access to the facility.

RECOGNITION

The Facility has been featured in many national and International magazines, full page articles 3 different local papers, multiple tv news coverage. It was broadcast on a national CBC radio show from the observatory, and had provided coverage and input into the discovery channel. Last 3 years it was one of the highlights of the local "Days with the Giant" Contest winners. Also last year visitors from every direction and as far away as New Zealand planned their trips to Thunder Bay based on the scheduling of the observatory.

In the last 8 years, I have grown a mailing list of 1000s of people from all over the world. These visitors get regular updates on coming events and reasons to visit Thunder Bay. Last year the Thunder Bay Observatory.com web site had over 2,000,000 visitors.

 

THANK YOU

Your continue support of the facility is key to its existence. One of primary reasons the other observatories are not dedicated to the public and are primarily used for research, is the high cost, and low business case to operate. Most larger centres have even closed observatories and plantariums because of this reason. For those that have visited the site and heard my lectures, they understand the passion I have for Astronomy and the feedback has been overwelming. A special thank you to those supporters that come to my open houses regularly, to those teachers that come back every year, to the local university that has been a strong supporter of the facility and to all of you that continue to support the operation.

Clear Skies

Randy

 

 

 

Click on Clear Sky Clock for explaination of colors

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