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Observatory for Russell and all-island Viewing Places

The Bay Islands could become a community of Southern Hemisphere night sky observers if a Redland City Council direction becomes a reality.

Central to the direction is the development of an Observatory on land formerly known as Pinnacle Farm off Canaipa Point Road on Russell Island.

The park area is on land previously owned by Margaret Broome, that was acquired by council in a special discount purchase. It is identifiable by the huge mango tree that dominates the spectacular site.

The Bay Island Conservation group has been brought on board under president Ian Larkman, and the group is excited about being involved with the project.

It has already obtained possible financial costs and has had an artists’ impression of a future observatory provided by designer Clem Ebber of Lamb Island.

However, Cr Mark Edwards says that council is looking at developing an ‘observatory strategy’ for all the Bay Islands.

“Whilst the ultimate goal will be to develop the major observatory at the spectacular site on Russell Island, council officers believe that ‘observatory platforms’ can be developed on all the islands.

“It has been suggested that ‘observation platforms’ can be developed at suitable locations on all the islands, where amateur observers can take their personal telescopes for clear and uninterrupted night sky viewing.” The councillor said these areas could be supported by pathways and seating.

He said the observatory on Russell Island was another matter. The present focus is to determine the suitability of this land for an observatory and engage with the community for a long term strategy for the park. This work has already begun.

“Council will be producing a design for pathways onto the Canaipa Point Rd site in the coming days, and these, along with appropriate seating, just below the site for the observatory.

“A proposed final design and format for the observatory is yet to be determined by a panel of council officers and then will be discussed with community stakeholders.

“It is here suggestions from the community and the conservation group will be assessed.”

Cr Edwards said this process could take some time however it’s important to get the design right, and that will then allow Bay Islands Conservation to apply for grants for funding to build the observatory.

Ian Larkman of the conservation group, said considerable effort had already been carried out in relation to the project.

He said: “ Bay Islands Conservation have provided pricing for the telescopes, and I will be getting a software estimate that will remotely control one telescope as well as sending images from the astronomical camera.

“The software is being investigated by island resident Zac Congo.

“The observatory will need to take advantage of the latest technology.”

Ian Larkman said that Lamb Island designer, Clem Ebber, had also voluntarily produced a design concept that could be a consideration, and thanked him for his input.

• Ian Larkman, Zac Congo and Cr Mark Edwards.

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