New society aims to reopen Centre of the Universe

Group aims to bring school field trips back to Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

A group of Saanich science fans are launching a new campaign to bring school aged kids back to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

Don Moffat is vice-chair of the brand new Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Society, a non-profit incorporated in June.

He says the new society’s plan is to reopen the The Centre of the Universe visitors centre that sits next to the iconic white observatory atop Little Saanich Mountain (on West Saanich Road), which closed in 2013 due to federal budget cutbacks.

“When the National Research Council announced the closing in 2013, I was told we would be allowed to reopen it if we could [organize] a new group such as this,” Moffat said. “Some of us came from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is there for amateur astronomers, to create the Friends of the Observatory, which will have a broader representation of the community.”

The Friends of DAO hopes to open the observatory and Centre of the Universe to elementary school field trips.

Currently, school groups have no access to the observatory. Public access is limited to a few Saturday nights in the summer, hosted by the RASC with support from the NRC and over-subscribed summer camps through the University of Victoria’s Science Venture camp program.

Therefore, it’s the society’s goal to raise $9,500 and have that matched through grants to fully fund a new School Tours program as well as some equipment upgrades to improve the quality of presentations on Observatory Hill. They’re starting with a crowd funding site to “get things going.”

“We’re not trying to crowd fund in perpetuity, we plan to have a stable funding base, hopefully through corporate donations and benefactors,” Moffat said.

“Our long-term vision will, of course, cost far more…,” Moffat said. “…We plan to fully fund the education program and incrementally renovate the visitors centre in time for the observatory centenary in 2018.”

The Plaskett Telescope has been in operation since May 6, 1918, though construction of the building started in 1914 and ended in 1917.

The Centre of the Universe houses historical artifacts like the original 1.8-metre mirror from the Plaskett Telescope and once offered historical tours, multimedia shows and youth programs. It had cost about $277,000 to operate annually, including $245,000 in employee wages, but brought in about $47,000 per year in revenue, costing the National Research Council about $230,000 per year.

 

The Friends’ fundraising campaign is based through a crowd funding site at IndieGogo http://igg.me/at/FDAO. Those who wish to be involved in other ways may contact the society at info@observatoryhill.org.

 

 

Just Posted

Saanich says it will take months to fix a sink hole that appeared during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Roads closed in the area after the sink hole first opened in early February

Derelict trimaran removed from Oak Bay waters

Boat has been aground near Oak Bay Marina for over five months

Confusing parking lot blamed for cars tipping into flowerbeds at Peninsula Canadian Tire

Tow and repairs cost thousands, engineer says drivers’ responsibility, Canadian Tire stay quiet

PHOTOS: Car Free YYJ entertains the masses in Victoria

Third annual fair where cars are banned goes off without a hitch

Saanich councillor ‘chose pragmatism over politics’ in opposing EDPA replacement

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau acknowledged her opposition shocked many of her supporters

WATCH: Barbers battle it out in Victoria

‘Barber Battle’ saw stylists and barbers from across North America go head-to-head

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read