Toronto

Doing anything for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing? This woman built an observatory

The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is this Saturday and Colleen Ansley, a Toronto space enthusiast, will be spending it looking at the stars from her personal observatory.

Colleen Ansley says observing the stars has been her 'deepest desire' since she was a little girl in India

Colleen Ansley, a Toronto space enthusiast, says her observatory will be up and running just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Colleen Ansley)

This story is part of Moon Landing: 50th Anniversary, a series from CBC News examining how far we've come since the first humans landed on the moon.

The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is this Saturday and Colleen Ansley, a Toronto space enthusiast, will be spending it looking at the stars from a personal observatory that will be finished just in time for the big day.

Ansley says she started building her observatory, which she named "Curiosity," last year at her summer cottage near North Bay. It features a telescope and technology for astrophotography, so that Ansley and her husband can take professional photos.

Colleen Ansley, a Toronto space enthusiast, finished building her observatory just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. 2:16

"This has been my deepest desire and with great support it started being built last year,"  Ansley told CBC News.

"Everything is in place. It's just the fine tuning left and it just so happened that it came together exactly in time."

Ansley's observatory on the deck of her cottage near North Bay. She says it's about 3.5 metres wide and her telescope is one-and-a-half times her size. (Colleen Ansley)

Ansley says her interest in space started when she was a young girl living in Mumbai, India.   

"The night sky was so clear that the stars glittered like diamonds," she said as she remembered her time there. 

Her curiosity about space continued into adulthood when she became an assistant at the U.S. Information Agency in India.

Ansley says she unofficially became the first Indian to hold a piece of moon rock. (Colleen Ansley)

"We covered the moon landing to the Indian public," recalled Ansley. "Later that year, I was involved with immense planning toward the visit of [Apollo 11] astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins."

Armstrong and Aldrin both walked on the moon on July, 20, 1969, while Collins circled high above them in the mission's command module. 

During their visit to India, Ansley says she got the chance to hold a sample of a moon rock.

"I was so amazed because that little piece of rock just dazzled under the sun. It was the highlight of my career."

Ansley says deep space is something she hopes to explore for another 50 years.

"There's so much out there, and we've got so much to learn and know about," she said. 

"That's a priority in my life." 

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