It was the 50th anniversary of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory last Friday, Jan. 7.

Jennifer Howse, education specialist with RAO, says because of the current COVID-19 issues they've postponed the celebration.

"We are planning on the solstice in June, to have an event at that time where we're hoping to invite alumni, people who have worked with the observatory in the past and we're hoping to all gather again."

Howse also says that back in 1972 when the official ceremony happened, it wasn't that much different from last Friday.

"Back in 1972 on a very chilly day...they did go ahead and they had an event and opened up the Observatory and we've been going ever since."

 And one of the items that was part of the official opening in 1972 will be making a comeback.

"So, one of the things that we did back in 1972 is during the official opening we also unveiled this beautiful sundial. And so, over the years the sundial was neglected, it was kept in a storage area and I'm very happy to say we've resurrected it. It's all beautiful and shining again and the sundial will be on display for the solstice this upcoming June and we'd like to unveil it again to mark this fifty years."

By the sounds of it, the resurrection was a labour of love.

"Alan Clark, the founding professor of the Observatory, he took this on as a personal mission to make sure that the sundial was refurbished and installed again on site. So, he's done a beautiful job with some help and we'll be ready to go for June."

Sadly, one very special woman won't be able to attend the celebration.

"It is a bit of a shame but the person who actually did the dedication ceremony at the original 1972 event, her name was Dr. Margaret Burbidge, and she was an astronomer and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. And unfortunately, she just passed away this past year and she was 100 years old. She was a pioneering astronomer and she was also a real advocate for women in science. And so, we are really proud that we have this legacy that Dr. Burbidge came and was part of the opening of our observatory."

The 50th-anniversary celebrations are set for the summer solstice, Tuesday, June 21st.