The Canterbury Astronomical Society operates its observatory facilities from its site on Bells Road, West Melton.

The RF Joyce Observatory has a number of fixed telescopes housed in domes or ‘Roll Off Roof’ observatories, a well equipped Lodge for those cold nights and plenty of grassed terraces for members to use for their own equipment or CAS’s own portable telescopes.

The Bells road location is well positioned for visitors from the city, the journey taking approximately 40 minutes from the CBD. It has minimal light pollution given its proximity to Christchurch and this is supported by an active light pollution control policy thanks to Selwyn District Council.


Our main instrument is a Meade 16″ RCX400 which is fork mounted and located in its own ‘Roll Off Roof’ shed.

This facility has the beauty of a small warm room on the end of the observatory which allows the astronomers to enjoy all night imaging sessions from the comfort of a chair and in the warm.

The 16″ was acquired through a substantial grant to the society. It’s large aperture and long focal length make it a favourite for deep sky objects and a popular telescope on public open nights.

Our 14″ instrument is mounted on a permanent pier in a larger dome, while the 12″ Meade LX200 is housed in a small ‘Roll Off Roof’ shed directly opposite the lodge. Both instruments are well suited for deep sky observing.

The 14″ dome offers spacious accommodation for groups, whilst the 12″ observing pad is rather more cosy! The 14″ is very much a ‘push to’ telescope lacking the modern computer drives of our other scopes, but is fitted with electric drives and is very stable in tracking .

The 12″ is wedge mounted on a small pier and is fully computer controlled for visual or astro photography.


Along side our 14″ and 12″ domes, a further two domes houseĀ our amazing Skywatcher 120 ED refractor which is mounted on a permanent pier and EQ6 mount and our 11″ Celestron mounted on an EQ8 mount.

The ED 120 is perfect for public nights offering crisp views of the moon, planets and some deep sky objects with its pin sharp views of stars. This one is always a favourite and offers stunning views of Jupiter’s bands and moons, Saturn’s rings are beautiful in this refractor and always guaranteed to get a ‘WoW’ on a public open night.

Our 11″ Celestron is mounted in its own dome and is used for members nights. Due to the tight space and step in the doorway we do not use this for public open nights.