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Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton looks for 10-year land extension

Household microwaves in the area are restricted because they interfere with radio-frequency
Astronomer and Black Press columnist Ken Tapping is one of the officials at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Kaleden.—(Mark Brett/Penticton Western News file photo)

A 10-year land use contract extension is being introduced to the B.C. legislative chamber for the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, located in the White Lake area of Kaleden.

The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2023 (Bill 6) was introduced in the legislative chamber on Monday, Feb. 13.

If passed, the legislation will continue protections for the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. It will permit the extension of a unique land-use contract within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, which minimizes disruption to the observatory by limiting the number of nearby housing developments and by placing restrictions on household electrical devices such as microwaves that could cause radio-frequency interference.

Most homes near to the observatory are not permitted to use microwaves.

The legislation is a request by the federal government and is supported by the RDOS. Twenty-one First Nations were consulted, said the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in a press release.

The observatory opened in 1960 and is now home to the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope, which can detect fast radio bursts (FRB) originating 1.5 billion light years away, astronomer Ken Tapping explained in a previous interview. Caused by some high-energy astrophysical process, radio bursts are not fully understood by astronomers.

“It was intended for measuring structure at the beginning of the universe, but it is picking up these radio bursts and we have probably collected more of them than anybody else in the world,” he added. Tapping is also a columnist for local media, sharing insights into space.

Prior to the pandemic, the public had been invited to tour the observatory and at times to watch meteor showers there.

READ MORE: Radio telescope may unlock mysteries of space

READ MORE: Radio Observatory invited public to 2017 Perseid Meteor Shower

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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