SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR BLIND ASTRONOMER
Nova Scotia’s Deep Sky Eye Observatory is expanding its horizons as interest in astro-tourism grows
HALIFAX—IN a picturesque village in southwestern Nova Scotia sits an observatory operated by a legally blind amateur astronomer.
Timothy Doucette’s Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Quinan, N.S., has welcomed more than 1,000 visitors from as far away as Germany and Australia since its official 2016 opening. Doucette said the overwhelming demand for astro-tourism in this part of the province has led him to expand his grounds to include overnight accommodations for stargazers beginning later this summer. Campsites, a cottage and bubble tents with clear tops for stargazing are all in the works.
Deep Sky is located in the Acadian Skies & Mi’kmaq Lands Starlight Reserve, which includes the municipalities of Yarmouth, Argyle and Clare. The province’s tourism website notes it’s one of only four places in the world to receive both the Starlight Reserve and Starlight Destination designations from the Starlight Foundation, which collaborates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
From his earliest childhood, Doucette was fascinated by the night sky, but was discouraged from pursuing his passion because of his limited eyesight. Born with congenital cataracts that weren’t noticed until he was more than one year old, Doucette was left with 10 per cent of normal vision.
By age 16 and after several eye surgeries, his vision dropped to five per cent. The cataracts had returned. He underwent another surgery to completely remove the lenses of his eyes and to bring his vision back up to 10 per cent.
The removal of his lenses left him with excellent night vision and the ability to see ultraviolet light, something Doucette said gives him an advantage over the average stargazer.
The discovery of what he jokingly calls his superpower was made by accident.
“MY GRAND PLAN IS ... TO HELP TRAIN PEOPLE TO BE STARLIGHT PEOPLE.” Tim Doucette READ HIS STORY AT THESTAR.COM/HALIFAX
People stare up at the Milky Way from Tim Doucette's Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Quinan, N.S. Timothy Doucette may only have 10 per cent of his vision but it’s an asset for stargazing.