The Hesje Observatory is located at the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station (AMLRS), 30 km north of Camrose in Miquelon Provincial Park. Miquelon Provincial Park is a dark sky preserve, so it is an ideal place for an astronomical observatory, as there is minimal light pollution to hinder the excellent view of the night sky.
The telescope in the observatory will provide a digital feed to the classroom in the AMLRS, and will eventually be able to be remotely accessible at Augustana. Also, there will be an observation deck around the observatory dome where portable telescopes can be set up.
The observatory is planned to be completed by fall 2019. The addition of the observatory will benefit Augustana students and other post secondary students, along with professors, K-12 school groups and anyone else who is interested in astronomy. Once completed, the observatory will be a center for opportunity by giving students access to the high-tech instruments necessary to study beyond Earth and into the cosmos.
What tonight's sky will look like at Miquelon Lake
Weather at Miquelon Lake
The programs implemented at the observatory will be for university and K-12 school students who are interested in astronomy and astrophysics. Undergraduate university students will work on projects that contribute data to worldwide astronomy research collaborations such as the American Association of Variable Star Observers. There will also be a program involving observation nights that line up with important astronomical events for K-12 school groups and the public.
Astronomical events to look forward to:
Aug. 28, 2019: Dawn conjunction of the Moon and Beehive in Cancer
Nov. 11, 2019: Mercury transit across the Sun (7:35 am - 1:04 pm)
Nov. 23/24, 2019: Dusk conjunction of Jupiter and Venus
Dec. 28, 2019: Evening conjunction of the Moon and Venus
Augustana has a portable telescope already. The most sophisticated is a Celestron Edge HD 11". It is an Aplanatic Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with excellent optics and an equatorial motorized mount. It will be used to photograph night sky objects to share with the world.
Another portable telescope, dubbed "Luther" to honor the heritage of Augustana, is an 8" Dobsonian handmade by two Augustana students as part of a Directed Study course. It is on an altazimuth mount and is not motorized, but it is simple to use for viewing the night sky.
The telescope that will be in the observatory is a 17" Corrected Dall-Kirkham (CDK17), and it will be mounted permanently in the observatory, as it weighs almost 50 kg. This will be the highest powered telescope Augustana will have, and it will greatly enhance students' learning experience when it comes to studying the universe.