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Breaking ground for observatory

Ground will be broken next weekend (March 8) for Mission's Rotary Observatory and Space Science Centre at Fraser River Heritage Park.

The event begins at 10 a.m.

The 2100-foot square building will have a flat top and a dome on one side for astronomy fans to watch nightly movements in the sky or daily activities of the sun.

Mission's Sunrise Rotary Club kicked off fundraising efforts for the project with a $20,000 donation, which was matched by the Mission Heritage Association, and the provincial government added $100,000 grant last April to get the project underway.

There is $140,000, as well as commitments from volunteers, to construct the building, but another $150,000 needs to be raised to equip it, said Brian Antonson, a member of the Fraser Valley Astronomers Society (FVAS) who is a leader in the project.

He plans to equip the facility with a prime telescope at least 20 inches in diameter, which would put the facility at a university class suitable for instruction and research.

"The bigger the mirror, the more light there is (to see the night sky)," said Antonson.

There will also be smaller telescopes and a solar one for the day. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own.

The facility will be located between the service road and the Blackberry Kitchen and can be used all day and all year, said Antonson.

Antonson hopes the building will be finished in the summer, but an opening date has not been determined as fundraising efforts are still ongoing.

To contribute to the observatory, or for more information, call the park office at 604-826-0277.

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