Two Observatories are available for London Centre Members
Observing at Fingal
Members of London Centre enjoy dark skies near Fingal, thirty two kilometers south west of London. From there the majestic arch of the Milky Way can be appreciated, the mysteries of the aurora borealis can be awe inspiring, and dim and distant galaxies or the faint and fuzzy outline of a visiting comet can be seen clearly through a telescope.
Lots of room for scopes and parking and we’re very proud of our new addition… a heated warm-up room built by the members of the Centre.
We observe near the Fingal Wildlife Management Area. During WWII this area was a bustling air force training base, the Number 4 Bombing and Gunnery School, and the huge concrete pad on which we park and set up telescopes was once the floor of aircraft hanger number 6.
Our magnetic declination, the amount that a compass needle points away from true North, is currently 8 degrees, 41 minutes West of true North. This information may be useful for anyone trying to polar align a telescope mount while it is still light.
The area is managed by the Elgin Stewardship Council for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and supports a wide variety of native plants and wildlife. The War To Roses Walking Trail takes you through the remaining signs of a once busy and vital training camp, where thousands of non-pilot aircrew learned their skills. An excellent guide and map is available for a donation just to the right of the Washrooms. Several large fields surrounding the road network of the old air base support conservation farming. Hunting, which must cease at dusk, is permitted in season in the woods and fields well to the south of our observing area.
Skies are relatively free from light pollution, often reaching naked eye magnitude 5.7, very good for South-West Ontario. On hazy nights there is light pollution in the north east sky from London and St. Thomas, and in the east sky to a lesser extent from Port Stanley. To the west the light dome of Dutton, West Lorne, Chatham and Detroit can be detected. Low to the south the lights of Cleveland can be seen, but these rarely effect visual observing of the southern Milky Way.
We usually observe during the period from third quarter moon to first quarter moon when the skies are clear and dark. There is not much point to driving well out into the country to escape city lights if the moon is as bright as a streetlight!
You are welcome to observe with us. If you are not a club member, contact one of our executive members to make arrangements. Bring your binoculars or telescope if you have them, and you can always have a view of the treasures of the night sky through ours.
Enjoying Our Dark Sky Site