Forgotten Hill is a great place to view the night sky. Most nights the sky is clear, the air is dry, and warm in the Summer. High up on the hillside, we benefit from little light pollution since the village is relatively dark, and the lights of Penticton and Summerland are sufficiently distant to have little impact for viewing the sky.
For those interested we have powerful tripod-mounted observation binoculars (shown on the right) that can be borrowed to look at the night sky, or at the surroundings during the day.
A Note of Warning:
If these binoculars are used during daylight hours, they can easily and quickly cause damage if pointed towards the sun or if the sun actually penetrates the lenses accidentally because the front cover of the objectives has been left off. The 100 cm magnification can focus the sunlight coming out the eyepieces, making it easy to accidentally start a fire or blind someone if they don’t realise the binoculars are aimed at the sun.
When not in use, the binoculars must be covered by the front cover and the eyepiece caps. Just to make it clear, if you look carefully at the eyepiece covers, you’ll notice that one of them has a perfectly round small hole. This happened when the binoculars were left outside with the eyepieces capped, but the front uncovered. It happened in a second as the earth moved and the sun’s light reached into the binoculars.
The binoculars are powerful enough to see planets and their moons, see Saturn and its rings, as well as get a clear view of the moon. The Apple App Store has a couple of apps that might be of interest:
Planets, by Q Continuum (a Star Trek reference, nothing else). The app is excellent and free;
Pocket Universe is another excellent App. This one is not free, but won’t break the bank at US $2.99
Other things to see while at Forgotten Hill are the Starlink satellites. These are the satellites that SpaceX launched to provide low-latency Internet access to people without physical broadband connections.
At Forgotten Hill, they can be seen almost daily transiting through the sky, sometimes in a perfectly evenly spaced string of more than 50 satellites. These are very hard to see in urban environments, but not here and can be seen with the naked eye. When anyone catches sight of them for the first time, they often find the sight quite stunning.
For information about viewing times, use the link below:
Should the site open to an incorrect location, enter the address:
3960 Cottonwood Lane Naramata BC V0H1N1
The observation binoculars are powerful enough that someone playing with a dog on the Lakeshore Drive beach in Penticton is visible. Similarly, the old forest fire lookout atop of Brent Mountain can also be seen. Feel free to look at the surrounding area but heed the warning about the danger the sun represents when its light gets into the objectives.
Finally, a few words of caution:
- These binoculars are very heavy. Watch your back and feet.
- They must always be placed on stable ground. The gravel parts of the gardens are fine but avoid the edges of the slope.
- The wooden tripod is height adjustable using the thumb screws on each leg. Ideally someone should hold the binoculars to prevent them from toppling over while someone else is loosening the thumb screws. Beware, the weight can easily make the binoculars become unstable.
- These binoculars are quite expensive: more than $3,000. Please treat them gently.
This said, enjoy!