Stars, Africa, and the Wonders of the Night Sky

All-Star Telescope is situated in the northern part of the territory designated in Treaty 7  signed on 22 September 1877 by five First Nations: the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Piikani (Peigan), Stoney-Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina (Sarcee).”  (Source:  Treaty7mapThe Canadian Encyclopedia)  Canada’s transcontinental railroad was subsequently built through this territory, completed in 1885 connecting British Columbia to the rest of Canada.  To connect Calgary and Edmonton, a sizable land grant from the Dominion of Canada allowed the Calgary & Edmonton Railroad to be completed in 1891.    Early settlers to the area included Mennonites from Ontario, including David and Susannah Shantz,  who purchased land from the C & E Railroad.   Ken and Bev From are the fourth generation of David & Susannah on this land now on Highway 2A between Didsbury and Carstairs.  As the major north-south highway in Alberta, it connected to the northern Alaska Highway and experienced high volumes of traffic during WWII.  The house built in 1924 by David & Susannah’s son, Melancthon and his wife, Samantha, became known in the community as the “house with the crooked chimney” as the tall chimney developed a significant “lean” before being repaired in the 1970’s.    The house caught the attention of a Hollywood film crew in 1972 where a portion of a movie with Gene Hackman, Lee Marvin and Sissy Specak was filmed.  Early  this century, Ken, a great-grandson of David Shantz and his wife, Bev, acquired the property.  


Update 2016 - Ten Years of All-Star Telescope  - below you can read about the beginnings of All-Star Telescope in 2006.   2016 was our tenth anniversay year and we offered an update and reflection on ten years with All-Star Telescope.  So much has happened, it is difficult to know where to begin.   But here are a few updates and reflections:

1.   Friends, friends and more friends:   we are so grateful for the numerous new friends we have made over the past ten years because of All-Star Telescope.   From numerous people locally who have found us and become good friends to folks around the world, we are grateful for the relationships created due to astronomy.   One person visiting from Brazil arrived in Calgary and drove directly to All-Star Telescope to make a purchase.   A few years later, when Canada won hockey gold at the Winter Olympics, he sent us a note of congratulations since we were Canadians he knew.  Others, like George and Dalton who live a few kilometers away have enriched our lives and supported all our efforts.   We can barely express our mountain of gratitude to them and to hundreds of others who supported, encouraged and inspired us over the past ten years.

2.  Astrophotography:  As you might see below, astrophotography wasn't anywhere on our radar when we opened All-Star Telescope in 2006. WhirlpoolSM I was only a visual observer and had built four Dobsonian telescopes, However, we look back to the day Dalton walked through the door and realize how significant this was.   Dalton introduced us to astrophotography.   In the last decade there has been a revolution in "astro-imaging" due to the advancement of digital and telescope equipment.  

IMG 0442 copyIn 2013 All-Star Telescope was Canada's selection for Celestron's "Perspectives on Imaging" award.  While visual observing continues to be an exciting and growing part of the hobby, we have vast resources for astrophotography with workshops led by Alan Dyer, star parties organized in New Mexico, on-line instructional videos for astrophotography and resources to share with anyone interested in this aspect of astronomy.


3.  Continued focus on service, support and relationship:  While we have continued to develop our website with things like online instructional videos and offer workshops and public observer nights, we still attempt to answer the phone and our e-mails as well as give personal service when you come to the shop.  Our "Star Attractions" newsletter is one way to keep in touch and we invite you to sign-up to receive the occasional e-mail newsletter. 

Occasionally we are asked if we actually have a store and have telescopes in stock for sale.   We are delighted to let people know that we have have one of the best displays and inventories of telescopes in Canada.  And....we have hundreds of hours of experience with the equipment.   It's our hobby as well as our business!

All-Star Telescope opened on November 8, 2006 during a unique celestial event - the transit of Mercury.   In our tenth year of service, another transit of Mercury occured - May 9, 2016.   Whether you have known us for 10 years or are now being introduced to All-Star Telescope, we invite you to visit us often and stay in touch as you learn and grow with this amazing hobby.


Written for our opening in 2006:

Why astronomy?

For many, the beauty and majesty of the heavens evokes worship and wonderment. Like standing before a beautiful sunset or listening to a symphony orchestra or admiring a work of art, the sight of a star cluster or galaxy moves us beyond ourselves to a connection with the splendors of creation. Just as an orchestra is made up of many parts, so also the universe is made of many individual components - each of which can can be a subject of lifelong study.

For others astronomy brings healing and order into their broken and hurting lives. The order and majesty of the heavens mysteriously offers order and stability to our lives. As light from distant stars flows into our lives through the eyepiece of a telescope, some have sensed healing also flow into their brokenness. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says,

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; Who created all this? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)


So, how did you get into astronomy?

In January 1990 we began a three year term of service with the Mennonite Central Committee in central Nigeria. In the middle of the night in a village with no electric lights within 100 km., I went outside to find a latrine. I discovered the heavens ablaze with stars like I had never seen before. This was the beginning of a wonderful journey of discovery of the splendors of our night sky.

We attempt, in our human way, to connect a love of astronomy with a concern for justice and peacemaking.  Observing the stars connects us to all of humanity - to all ages, races, religions and genders. 

In 2006 Bev and I began an astronomy business and telescope store with the mission of “Helping people discover the wonders of the night sky.” We thoroughly enjoy helping people marvel at the beauty of Saturn and its rings...and enjoy the exuberant expressions of those who see it for the first time. As a means to helping people continue making those discoveries we sell telescopes and offer help in choosing a scope.  The business also helps support us in this mission.

Astronomy captivates all ages from five to eighty-five. We hope you also enjoy this lifelong journey of discovery.

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Photo of students and families in Gindiri with 12" Dobsonian telescope built by Ken in Phil Johnson's ATM group of the Calgary Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.



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