Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve Ltd. has a fully functioning observatory as well as a planetarium. With the use of three Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, roll-off roof, clear, dark night sky and dome shaped planetarium there is never a time when our astronomy program does not deliver a quality, introductory experience to our guests. The Forest's observatory is located at the edge of 80,000 acres of undeveloped land, giving way to night skies, which are void of light pollution, the largest obstacle to night-sky viewing. The furthest object our naked eye can see is 2.6 million light years away. On a clear night we can observe this object, the Andromeda Galaxy, from our elevated observatory. This superb location allows the opportunity to view individual stars, galaxies and deep sky objects not normally visible in populated areas.
Even on cloudy nights our programs will leave guests inspired: using our planetarium we can explore the night skies, listening to stories of constellations, various myths and travel through time learning about ancient cultures, which viewed the skies as a realm with magical powers.
Situated on a small rise near the entrance point into Haliburton Forest, the observatory offers an unobstructed view of the night skies. The plain, 1 1/2 story observatory building suits the wilderness setting. Once the roof rolls off, it reveals its true identity as a home for telescopes and other astronomy equipment. The ground floor is set up for presentations and also leads into the planetarium.
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Two 10" and one 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes are mounted to facilitate easy viewing of the skies. Self-tracking and equipped with computerized functions accessing a 64.000 object database, these state of the art systems will make sky observations easy, pleasant and effective.
Keeping in tune with Haliburton Forest's concept of sustainable use and based on the fact that the sun provides the energy for all life on our planet, a solar power system has been installed to provide the observation facility with all its power requirements. Photovoltaic cells gather the sun's rays, which are converted and stored in a battery bank, to be used to operate the telescopes and equipment on site.
The Star Map
On site, visitors will find a one-of-a kind star map, providing the opportunity to chart one's way through the night sky above. This feature, which adds great value to educational astronomy programs was designed and built by local artist Andy Hillo.
Day Time Star Gazing
A unique feature at the Haliburton Forest observatory is the opportunity to engage in day time star gazing. The viewing of larger sky objects is made possible through the full computerization of the telescopes. Additionally a hydrogen-alpha filtered telescope enables viewers to observe the sun during the day - offering the rare opportunity to view, among others, solar flares and sun spots.
Hours of Operation
The observatory is open to the public every Friday and Saturday evening at 9:30 pm throughout the summer (from July 1st to September 4th). Velta Tomsons, the onsite astronomer, will guide guests through the night skies. Sessions will start at 9:30. Space is limited to 20 participants. A common evening program lasts for 2 hours.
Astronomy Program Pricing
The fee, including applicable taxes, is $22 for adults and $17 for youths under 18.
Preregistration is required. Should the respective evening be cloudy, an astronomy program in our on-site planetarium accompanied by a slide show will be offered.
Group outings throughout the year can be arranged upon request for a minimum of 6 participants.