Astro Imaging & Dark Sky Preserve

Nutwood Observatory, Property and History


                  Nutwood Observatory is a resource not to be missed.

The PAA is fortunate to have five member-owned observatories available to the club. Over the next few issues of the Reflector we’ll explore each of them and I think you will be amazed at the level of professionalism with which they are outfitted and operated.

            First on our list is the 2,000-acre Nutwood Observatory and wildlife sanctuary.

The facility is an astronomer’s paradise with built-in observing pads for your telescope, running water and washrooms, yes ladies, washrooms. Just add you and a telescope to complete the picture.

If you enjoy hiking and nature trails, you can wander to your heart’s content during the day. Chances are you’ll meet up with a friendly herd of elk who call Nutwood their home as do a variety of wild birds and smaller critters.

            Club Member Brian McGaffney owns the property and encourages PAA members to visit anytime there’s a clear night. During the summer he is open to camping and gives regular sky tours at his 12x12¬≠foot guest observatory. There you’ll scan the sky through Brian’s 16-inch Sky-Watcher computerized Go-To scope, or perhaps through his binocular-equipped refractor. For those with an interest in astro-imaging Brian has a 16-foot motorized dome in which a 14-inch Ceravolo Astrograph resides along with a host of computers and monitors for image processing as well.

            Brian has been an avid science buff and astro-nerd since building his first telescope in grade six. Today he holds a PhD in physics, consults with a computer manufacturing facility in North Bay (which he used to own) and teaches astro-imaging as well as computer science in Canada and the U.S.

Brian’s images have frequently appeared in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and are recognized as being some of the finest taken by Canadians. 

Nutwood Observatory welcomes PAA member visits, just give Brian a call at 613-332-3885. There will also be a PAA observing session there on September 13 and 14 of 2014. The grounds are located 15 minutes from Bancroft, Ontario.  That makes it about an hour’s drive north of Peterborough.

To take a cyber tour of the facility visit  the Nutwood Observatory on-line . Be sure to check out the gallery of Brian’s work. I think you’ll be amazed on all counts.

One thing that you’ll have to see in person to appreciate is the dark sky available to astronomers at Nutwood Observatory. The rating on the Sky Quality Meter (SQM) is 21.0 and that’s about as good as it gets anywhere.

                                      Description and write-up by John Crossen,  PAA