Fort William Historical Park officially unveiled its new observatory today — and a half-metre telescope is the centre of the attraction.

Through this new equipment, visitors can get a good look at planets, stars and distant galaxies, according to Anthony Marrelli, co-ordinator of education at the park.

"I really hope people come out to just understand our place in the universe and get interested in astronomy," he said. "It's much more approachable than people think."

While the actual telescope is outdoors, images are piped into an adjacent building where they're projected on a screen.

"You're going to see some amazing things you normally can't," Marrelli added.

"...the coolest thing [I've seen so far] would be Bode's Galaxy. It's a wonderful galaxy, just beautiful. It's a spiral galaxy … has a bright epicentre, which is a black hole … it's bright because that's the matter being sucked in."

'First class'

The observatory also features a collection of meteorites — including some from the moon — and a scale that shows how much you would weigh on the moon.

In keeping with its First Nations focus, one of the programs that will be offered covers the Ojibway names and stories of constellations.

The general manager at the park said "the fort has to be adaptable to change … with the growing demands of the tourist today and astronomical tourism is one of the fastest growing parts."

Sergio Buonocore said the telescope is "one of the largest … in this part of Canada … I think you 'gotta go to Toronto or Calgary to find anything bigger ... so this is a first class, well run facility."


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the observatory has a 5 metre telescope.
    Dec 17, 2012 12:21 PM ET