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Featured R. F. Joyce Observatory

Discussion in 'Canterbury Astronomical Society & Outreach' started by CAS Admin, Nov 17, 2015.

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  1. CAS Admin

    CAS Admin Administrator CAS Member CAS Committee

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    The Canterbury Astronomical Society's observatory is located near West Melton, a small township west of Chrischurch (see the About CAS ). This facility was originally established, in 1963, as a dark-sky site with a satellite tracking station; the space age had just dawned and the new moving lights in the sky were of great interest. The observatory's existence is entirely due to the generous bequest of R. F. Joyce, a founding member and first president of the Canterbury Astronomical Society. This enabled a piece of land to be bought in rural Canterbury and the establishment of the observatory's first instrument, a modest satellite tracking scope, which saw important use in the early days of the space age.

    The observatory has since gone from strength to strength with the addition of a dome containing a 16" Newtonian reflector, which was subsequently replaced with a 14.5" Cassegrain reflector designed for photometry. A meeting room with kitchen facilities - a place to gather for a chat and warm-up, was added near that time.

    A number of other buildings meeting numerous purposes have been added since then with the whole observatory going through an expansion and major maintance period in recent years. This included a ten-fold increase in available flat area for telescopes, and numerous upgrades to take advantage of modern technology.

    The telescopes on site include the 14.5" Cassegrain reflector in the main dome with a 4" refracting guide scope, a 12" Meade GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain, a 24" Dobsonian and others with assorted smaller apertures.

    In November, 2005, the Society was delighted to receive a grant of $50,000 from the Eureka Trust towards the cost of a new, larger, main instrument and related equipment. A fully automated Meade RCX400 telescope of 16" (41cm) aperture has been installed, as well as a CCD camera, and Canon digital SLR camera specifically designed for astrophotography. The 16" telescope has been housed in the roll-off roof building on the eastern side of the site, which has been renovated for the purpose.

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    Henry Werffeli likes this.
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