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Presse Release, January 2006

Bishop’s University is proud to announce that its new Astronomical Observatory will be constructed on the roof of Nicolls Building. The installation of the dome is slated to begin August 2006. The 16.5-foot Ash dome will house a permanently mounted Meade LX200 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The telescope will be equipped with a 2-inch finder scope and a Santa Barbara Instrument Group (SBIG) CCD camera. The latter will be connected wirelessly to a remote computer that will be used to analyze the images. A variety of 35mm film cameras can also be mounted on the telescope so that observers can do astrophotography. The telescope will also be equipped with a solar filter so that the Sun (and sunspots) can be safely viewed during the daytime.

Unlike almost all observatories, the dome will be fully enclosed so that the temperature inside the dome can be maintained at comfortable levels. This is especially important during the coldest winter nights since these times often coincide with the clearest skies and the best seeing conditions. The truly innovative feature of this dome is that the shutter (the opening that the telescope looks through) will be encased by a transparent, optically flat window that can be removed if required.

The observatory will be used by students in the astronomy classes offered by Bishop’s University and Champlain College. Students enrolled in these courses will be given the opportunity to conduct astronomical exercises using some of the latest equipment available in modern observatories. Undergraduate honours students will also carry out research on these instruments in order to complete their research disserations.

The Observatory will be open to the general public and to civic groups in the Sherbrooke community. Any groups such as scouts, guides, K-12 school groups, or church groups may reserve a night at the observatory. An audio-visual presentation entitled “A Brief Tour of the Universe” highlighting some of the most interesting observations in astronomy can also be arranged. These services are offered free of charge. Any school may bring students to the observatory but schools must take full responsibility for chaperoning their students. We especially encourage high school students to participate in research-related projects that will be conducted by Bishop’s astronomy students (who will act as their mentors). These projects include supernova searches, variable star monitoring, and asteroid searches. Please inquire to obtain more information about these exciting possibilities.

For more information about arranging a visit to the Bishop’s University Astronomical Observatory, please email us OR email Jean Porter or call her at (819) 822-9600 x2355.