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Get Lost in the Beautiful Night Sky

Astronomers, stargazers and anyone fascinated by the night sky, grab your blankets and binoculars! A brand new astronomical observatory is being constructed in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, located in the Beaver Hills Biosphere (BHB).

“Being located in a biosphere is important because we can demonstrate ways in which people can interact with the natural environment in a way that promotes sustainability,” says Glen Hvenegaard, PhD and Professor of Environmental Science and Geography at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus.

Expected to open in the fall of 2019, the Hesje Observatory will be part of the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station. The new observatory will house a 17 inch telescope with remote controlled adjustments, a remote controlled roof opening, and Wi-Fi connections for digital displays in various locations. In addition to the observatory tower, a wheelchair accessible classroom is being added to the research station. With the construction of the Hesje Observatory, Augustana Campus will be able to offer all seven classical disciplines of a liberal arts education within its curriculum.

The seven classical disciplines of a liberal arts education include Grammar (English), Logic (Math, Philosophy), Rhetoric (English), Arithmetic (Math), Geometry (Math), Theory of Music (Music), and Astronomy (Physics).

The observatory is named after primary donor, Brian Hesje, who donated $500,000 to the University of Alberta to fund the construction and development of the new facility. Brian, a U of A alumnus and recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008, has pursued higher thinking his whole life and views the observatory as a way for all to broaden their thinking. Read the U of A news article.

The new observatory will be used for research, education and outreach. Augustana’s Department of Science, in partnership with Alberta Parks and the Battle River School Division, will be able to collaborate in the development of outreach programming for school groups, participants in adult education, tourists, parks enthusiasts and lifelong learners. Together they also hope to develop partnerships with astronomical groups, nature groups, science groups, educational groups and more.

“Miquelon Lake Provincial Park is an internationally designated dark sky preserve, so the conditions for night sky viewing are excellent and will provide researchers, students, campers, and the public wonderful opportunities to see stars, planets and more,” adds Glen. “The observatory will be a great place to observe celestial phenomena on any clear night.”

Although not yet confirmed, there will be a grand opening and other scheduled astronomical observing evenings opened to the public.