SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR BLIND AS­TRONOMER

Nova Scotia’s Deep Sky Eye Ob­ser­va­tory is ex­pand­ing its hori­zons as in­ter­est in as­tro-tourism grows

StarMetro Vancouver - - CANADA - YVETTE D’ENTREMONT Read about Doucette’s jour­ney at thes­tar.com/hal­i­fax

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

COUR­TESY TIM DOUCETTE

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.

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