Helena Observatory,   North Alton, NS

Site Information

15-Apr-2024 02:13 AST 15-Apr-2024 06:13 UTC

Observatory site

Location: North Alton, NS
Latitude: 45°4'
Longitude: -64°31'
Altitude: 105m ASL
Magnetic Var.: 18° W
Time Zone: AST, currently UTC
Light pollution: Bortle class 5 (brown)
Skyline elevation:
North: 15°
East: 20°
South: 15°
West: 15°

The site is located in the Annapolis Valley.

Weather Station


Site Time

Server and site time




The observatory and this website are owned by Kathleen Walker


The name of the observatory is the Helena Observatory.

Who is Helena? Her full name is Helena Handbasket. The name has been used by at least one real-life drag performer, as a character in an animé, and probably best-known as a character on the Friends TV show.

"Helena Handbasket" is a commentary on the social and political state of the world: "going to hell in a handbasket".


It is traditional for astronomy websites to utilize light text on a dark background to give a night-sky feel. Unfortunately, too many of them use an unimaginative, unergonomic combination of white text of a black background. If you spend more than 10 seconds looking at such a site, your eyes will be ringing (or whatever the optical equivalent is) when you come back to a normal site.

The colour scheme for this website was chosen to minimize this effect while still giving the traditional dark sky feel. A second objective was to ensure that the entire text content be readable through a red filter.

I do not use any page-generating software to write the HTML code. I write in straight HTML, using a plain text editor. Scripting is done mostly by server-side scripts. I use very few client side scripts. Server-side scripting is in PHP.