Bathurst Observatory Research Facility on the move to new site

BATHURST’S urban sprawl has forced the relocation of the city’s observatory to a new darker location

For the past 17 years Bathurst Observatory Research Facility has been located on Limekilns Road, but in coming months it will relocate to Billywillinga.

The observatory’s Ray Pickard said the city’s expansion has forced the moved.

“Though this [urban growth] is great news for the growth of Bathurst, the associated lights and glare spells the end of the observatory at the current location,” he said earlier this year.

The lights and glare reduce the ability of the facility’s telescopes to see as far or as well.

Certain criteria was vital for the new site including: being at least 800 metres above sea level, located within 10-15 kilometres of Bathurst, NBN accessible and it also needed to have building permission.

With land now found and the purchase being finalised, Mr Pickard hopes to commence the massive relocation process in a month’s time.

“It’s behind Billywillinga so there’s not going to be much development there into the future so there’s really dark skies,” he said.

“Council have been helping us with mapping to pinpoint a place that will be suitable.”

The relocation will take some time, Mr Pickard said, with the observatory to be dismantled and reassembled with assistance from the telescope’s manufacturer.

“It’s a nervous time to be relocating after 17 years, but it’s an exciting time too,” he said.

Mr Pickard said the relocation will be well worth the effort and the region’s star gazers will reap the benefits.

“Because the sky will be much darker you’ll be able to see a much richer sky and the Milky Way at its best,” he said.

“I think people will see a noticeable difference.”

Mr Pickard said the relocation will also allow the observatory to expand and introduce new visitor experiences which he said will be announced soon.

In the meantime, regular night tours will continue at the current location for the next month.