Oso Observatory

(1979–2016) Leo Enright's observatory at Sharbot Lake, Ontario.

Built in 1979, Oso Observatory was located on the highest spot at Leo Enright's home (Villa Leonis) on Hawley Bay (an arm of Sharbot Lake). Sometime after 1978 Leo purchased Pinecrest Island (due south, in the middle of the bay) because he didn't want anybody else buying it and putting a cottage on it with a light. The name 'Oso' comes from the early name of the local township, prior to its amalgamation into Central Frontenac.



Excavation on the site encountered solid granite bedrock about three metres down, "like coming to the top of a mountain." The peak was right about the spot Leo wanted to put the pier. It was decided to pour a large block of concrete and put the whole frame of the observatory on it. So it was that 21.5 cubic yards of concrete were poured, weighing 43 tons!

The observatory was built as a 12'x12' roll-off roof structure with the pier in the centre. The roof rolled off to the east. For the first couple of years the observatory housed a C8. In May 1981 Leo purchased a C14 and the roof was enlarged to accommodate it. In the late 1980s, the C14 was shipped back to California where it was upgraded with a Byers drive which was "considerably better than the original Celestron drive..."

At some point a pier was added outside the observatory (to the SE) for the C8. This consisted of a pipe with a large flange on the bottom that rested on the ground, so no excavation was required.

Leo died in 2009. In 2016 his wife, Denise Sabatini, donated the C14 to the RASC Kingston Centre. This marked an official end of sorts for Oso Observatory. Though the property was sold soon after, it is possible that the observatory building still survives to this day.



Much of the information here came from David Levy's interview with Leo on an episode of "Let's Talk Stars." (This program, unfortunately, is no longer available online.)

Further Reading


Observatory, Oso