As It Happens

Legally blind astronomer in Nova Scotia sees stars better than most

Tim Doucette opened the Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, in the fall of 2015.
Tim Doucette is the founder of the Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. (Deep Sky Eye Observatory; CBC)
Listen7:37
Tim Doucette is legally blind, but in the world of astronomy, he sees more than most. Doucette was born with cataracts, and underwent an operation that removed the lenses from his eyes, and widened his pupils. This gives him exceptional night vision. 
A telescope at the Deep Sky Eye Observatory. (Deep Sky Eye Observatory )
I really had a drive to see the moon and the stars and everything.- Tim Doucette, of the Deep Sky Eye Observatory 
Recently, Doucette opened the Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. As he tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann, he was "discouraged as a child because of my eye condition" from pursuing his astronomic passion, but "I really had a drive to see the moon and the stars and everything." 
The Deep Sky Eye Observatory is in Yarmouth County, N.S., an area designated by UNESCO as a Starlight Tourist Destination. (Facebook )
Doucette discovered his unique skill at an observation session with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He looked through a telescope, and was asked what he saw: "I said 'I see what looks like a doughnut, and a couple of little stars in the middle.'" The man from the RASC told him he shouldn't be able to see that with that particular telescope. "That's sort of where things started to snowball." 
Tim Doucette with Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield (Facebook )

Yarmouth County was given Starlight Tourist Destination status from UNESCO in November, 2014. From his observatory, Doucette says one can see "planets, galaxies, clouds of gas and dust called nebula, star clusters, the list goes on."

"I seem to discover something new almost every single time that I look up at the sky, or that I'm teaching someone about the new sky, there's always new things to look at." 

To learn more about Doucette's ability take a listen to the full interview.

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