BAS history

The Bluewater Astronomical Society (incorporated in 2011) has been promoting the enjoyment of stargazing in Bruce and Grey counties since 1990, originally as the Bruce County Astronomical Society. The club was started by avid amateur astronomers in Port Elgin, ON over 24 years ago with a single telescope donated by a Southampton, ON resident. He also donated an observatory dome and auxiliary hardware that eventually was installed on a large trailer which served as an observatory for club members and the students of the Bruce County School Board. The club held many astronomy viewing events for the general public while that facility was in operation (e.g., meteor watches, eclipse and comet observing).

The ES Fox observatory

That building was eventually replaced by the ES Fox observatory in the clear dark skies at the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre near Oliphant, ON. This larger, more capable facility was constructed in partnership with the Bluewater Education Foundation and the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre (BOEC). Construction began in the fall of 2010, and it officially opened in September 2011. The ES Fox observatory was made possible after a major donation from Spencer Fox of ES Fox Construction. The structure is a large roll-off roof observatory.

The BAS owns a Webster 28" Dobsonian reflector telescope, and it is stored at the ES Fox Observatory for occasional use during our public viewing events. The Webster also makes a pilgrimage to Starfest every August where it is usually the telescope with the largest aperture and consequently the longest lineups!

A telescope of this size can theoretically see over a billion stars (number varies due to age of viewer, darkness of site, seeing conditions, etc.). This instrument has 10 000 times the light grasp of the naked eye! But the proof is in the viewing, and we encourage you to come out and view with us on our public viewing nights. You will be blown away!

The site

In November 2012, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada approved an application for Dark Sky Preserve status for the BOEC. Under the designation, lighting is strictly controlled, and the public is educated about the benefits of maintaining a natural level of night time illumination that is more ecologically desirable. Our site is Canada's 15th Dark Sky Preserve (DSP) and the fourth in the area of southern Ontario (joining Torrence Barrens DSP, Gordon's Park DSP, and the Bruce Peninsula National Park DSP). As a Dark Sky Preserve, both the BOEC and BAS strive to maintain the natural heritage of the wonderful star-studded sky that so many enjoy.

2019-2021 executive officers

The full BAS executive (March 2019 to March 2021) consists of:

  • President: John Hlynialuk (top left)
  • Vice president: Eric Ingard (top right)
  • Secretary: Lorraine Rodgers (second row, left)
  • Treasurer: Cheryl Dawson (second row, right)
  • Membership: Marian Ratcliffe (third row, left)
  • Past president: Brett Tatton (third row, right)
  • Member-at-large: ZoĆ« Kessler (bottom)

Relevant documentation