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ET phone home: Observatory near Penticton re-opens for guided tours

Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory will host tours starting April 8
Guided tours are back Saturday and Sundays at the Dominion Radio Astrological Observatory at White Lake starting April 8. Seen here is then UBC student Meiling Deng with one of the antennas she designed for use on the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope unveiled in 2017 at the Observatory. (Western News file photo)

Calling all Backyard astronomers, stargazers and everyone wondering if there is life in outer space as the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton is opening back up to the public to offer guided tours starting on Saturday, April 8.

Guided tours and meteor shower viewing parties were halted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The tours will now continue on Saturdays and Sundays only from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from April 8 to Oct. 8.

The site will remain closed to the public Monday through Friday due to on-site construction.

Turn off all electronic devices when visiting the site. Signals from your electronics can damage their sensitive equipment. Many homes located near the observatory are not allowed to have microwaves for the same reason.

Operating several telescopes on its extensive radio-quiet site in the White Lake area of Kaleden, DRAO also features laboratories and specialized equipment for design and construction of all aspects of radio-frequency instrumentation, from highly sensitive antennas and receiver systems to high speed digital signal processing hardware and software.

The observatory opened in 1960 and is now home to the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope, which can detect fast radio bursts (FRB) originating 1.5 billion light years away, astronomer and Black Press columnist Ken Tapping explained in a previous interview. Caused by some high-energy astrophysical process, radio bursts are not fully understood by astronomers.

The Observatory is home to astronomers, astrophysicists, engineers and technologists, as well as visiting researchers and students from universities and astronomical observatories around the world, these facilities support the design and development of leading-edge instrumentation for new and existing telescopes.

READ MORE: Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton looks for 10-year land extension

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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