Guests get far-out experiences at Observatory B&B in the South Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Guests get far-out experiences at Observatory B&B in the South Okanagan

Astronomer Jack Newton can be seen in the large telescope that's part of his home and business in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/

There’s a bed and breakfast in the South Okanagan that offers some of the best views of the valley and beyond — way beyond.

The Observatory B&B has an excellent vantage point from its location at a high altitude on Anarchist Mountain in Osoyoos.

For anybody familiar with the winding drive up Anarchist on Highway 3, the Observatory B&B is located near the popular lookout where it’s easy for traffic to pull off and enjoy the panoramic view.

But as vast as the scenery may appear from that part of the mountain, the guests who stay at this bed and breakfast get to enjoy scenery that reaches far beyond the bounds of earth’s geography.

"Every time you look at Saturn it takes your breath away," said Jack Newton, who owns and operates the bed and breakfast with his wife Alice. 

READ MORE: CHIME telescope in South Okanagan helps pinpoint location of space phenomena

Guests are able to look at stars and planets in the middle of any sunny day thanks to the large, 50-centimetre telescope that’s attached to their home.

“I always get a kick out of showing them the North Star in the daytime," Jack said. “I can see as many stars in the daytime as you can see with your naked eye at night."

The daytime is also the only opportunity to look directly into the sun, safely of course. Through a special filter, the sun’s lower chromosphere can be observed, and some people are lucky enough to witness a coronal mass ejection.

The Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
The Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

But despite all of the cosmic treats that can be enjoyed during the daytime, planets and stars shine their brightest at night. Within the four stars that make up the bowl of the Big Dipper constellation, Newton's telescope can zoom in to observe approximately 1,000 galaxies.

Their lens can zoom close enough to see Jupiter’s belt and the red spot, but one of their favourite cosmic sights is of Saturn because of its distinguished rings.

"Every time you look at Saturn it takes your breath away," Jack said. 

For guests who have never glimpsed through such a powerful telescope, "it can absolutely be stunning," Alice said. "Especially when you have your real showcase planet like Saturn visible. To see it yourself through an eyepiece as opposed to looking at something through a monitor, it's just a totally different feeling," she said. 

READ MORE: The moon will be eclipsed over Kamloops, Okanagan this month

Each day at the Observatory B&B starts with a discussion about the celestial activity they witnessed the previous night.

There are several different times of the day when the giant telescope is worth looking through, and in between those opportunities, many guests enjoy discovering the many fascinating artifacts that are sprinkled around their home, like asteroids and fossils. 

"We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure this place is very informational," Alice said. "Some of our guests like to go on little treasure hunts."

A telescopic photograph of M42 – the Orion Nebula.
A telescopic photograph of M42 – the Orion Nebula.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Jack Newton

The Observatory B&B sits high enough to avoid much of the cloud cover that sticks around in the Okanagan.

But when the skies are cloudy above Newton’s observatory, there’s a theatre where guests can see the supernovae he’s discovered, or sights from another telescope he can use remotely from the Arizona Sky Village – a community that minimizes light pollution.

The Anarchist Mountain location was shortlisted as a potential site for the Queen Elizabeth II Observatory, Jack said. Ultimately Mount Kobau was chosen as the location, however the project never ended up getting built.

The view from the dinner table at the Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
The view from the dinner table at the Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

The couple figures around 8,000 guests have visited since they opened to the public in the year 2000. Alice said guests used to commonly visit from European countries like England, Holland and Germany, however that changed when the pandemic started.

"We have not had any really substantial numbers of overseas people in quite some time," she said. 

Most of their domestic clientele would come from Vancouver, but over the past two years, they have noticed many guests coming from Vernon, Kelowna and Nelson. 

There are three themed rooms guests can stay in – the moon room, the Saturn Suite and the eclipse suite. Visitors of all ages enjoy staying with the Newtons, but they ask families to not bring children younger than five. 

To book a stay at the Observatory B&B, visit their website

The theatre room at Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
The theatre room at Observatory B&B in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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