Visually impaired astronomer to open observatory in southwestern N.S.
Published Thursday, September 10, 2015 8:11PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, September 11, 2015 8:11AM ADT
A visually impaired astronomer is gearing up to launch his own observatory in southwestern Nova Scotia.
Tim Doucette was born with cataracts. His vision is at about 10 per cent and during the day he wears sunglasses to protect his eyes from the light. However, at night he points his eyes up to the mysteries of the universe.
“I grab a chair and I'm there for two hours just looking up at the sky, forgetting about the telescope for a little while,” says Doucette.
Doucette had eye surgery when he was a teenager. One of the side effects of the procedure helped him see things most of us cannot, images in ultraviolet light.
“I just had the bandage removed from one of my eyes, and looking up at the Milky Way and it was like a curtain had been lifted, it was just amazing,” recalls Doucette.
Then, 12 years ago, Doucette’s wife Amanda bought him a telescope, and he began to share his hobby with others.
“It’s been phenomenal, meeting people, seeing people's view of seeing the stars for the first time and the moon for the first time; that they've never been able to see the craters, stuff like that, has been very touching for us,” says Amanda.
Last year, the UNESCO Starlight Foundation designated the municipalities of Yarmouth, Clare, and Argyle the first ever Starlight tourism destination in North America; marking southwestern Nova Scotia as one of the purest regions in the world to watch the night sky.
The designation inspired Doucette to start an astrotourism business.
With his family's help, Doucette is building an observatory in Yarmouth County. It's situated on one of Quinan's highest points and is the fulfillment of a dream for the astronomer.
“The dark skies here are definitely one of our natural resources that's fading in the world, and I'm working to try and help the communities to keep the light pollution down,” says Doucette.
In early October, the Doucettes will open their Deep Sky Eye Observatory to the public.
Some of the features of their new venture include a viewing deck and state-of-the-art telescopes, which people will be able to remotely connect to through Twitter or Facebook.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau