Star Gazing and Astronomy

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by sobore, Mar 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

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    Any places with great night sky views?
    Here are a few to consider:

    Torrance Barrens Conservation and Dark Sky Reserve

    Torrance Barrens Conservation and Dark Sky Reserve is tucked away in Muskoka's cottage country, just two hours' drive from Toronto. The Ontario government made this 1,905-hectare wilderness of Precambrian rock outcrops and wetlands Canada's first official dark-sky preserve in 1999. The best-bet sites for unobstructed sky views are near the southeast edge, off Southwood Road.

    There is limited wilderness-style-only camping in the reserve, so you'll need to bring all your own supplies, including water. Serviced sites and bed and breakfasts are available in nearby Gravenhurst, or you can book a room at the Bala Bay Inn.

    During daylight hours, hike the trails through the Torrance Barrens into blueberry patches, peatlands and rocky slopes covered with lichens and moss. Along the way, you might view rare species such as the southern bog lemming, massasauga rattlesnake or the five-lined skink.

    Telephone: (705) 645-7393


    Gordon's Park
    Manitoulin Island, Ontario

    Rita and Terry Gordon, who own Gordon's Park, on Manitoulin Island in southern Ontario, have designated a four-hectare section of their 108-hectare park a dark-sky sanctuary. Taking the concept to heart, they have interpretive guides who operate the small roll-off-roof observatory and show visitors the delights of the night sky through the facility's powerful telescope. Wide-field binoculars are also available for public use. Gordon's Park is open year-round. In July and August, Thursdays are astronomy nights, with guided introductions to constellations and telescope use. The park also hosts an event called Stargazing Manitoulin, from June 30 to July 4, and the Manitoulin Star Party, from August 11 to 14. There are numerous B&Bs on the island. Guests can also camp at Gordon's Park — wilderness-style in the preserve or at serviced sites in the main park. The island is home to pileated woodpeckers, great grey owls, white-tailed deer, porcupine and flying squirrels, plus poplar and leatherwood trees. The park offers wilderness retreats and a roster of ecoactivities, including moonlight hikes, wolf howls or owl prowls.

    Telephone: (705) 859-2470


    Cypress Hills Dark-Sky Preserve
    Alberta and Saskatchewan

    A 40,000-hectare expanse of prairie parkland shared by southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is Canada's largest officially designated dark-sky preserve. Cypress Park Resort Inn has cabin, hotel and condo-style accommodations, or you can sleep at one of the bed-and-breakfast facilities in nearby Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, or Elkwater, Alberta. If you want a canopy of stars overhead, stay at one of the numerous campsites, including the Meadows Campground in the Centre Block, which is popular for its relatively unobstructed sky views. In July and August, scheduled astronomy nights begin with a slide talk, followed by sessions with telescopes. August 4 to 7, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada hosts the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party in the Meadows Campground. During daylight hours, hiking trails and lookout points offer magnificent views. Pine and spruce forests are home to calypso orchids and mountain shootingstars, moose, antelope, coyotes and mountain bluebirds. Fort Walsh National Historic Site commemorates the history of the North West Mounted Police.
    Toll-free: 1-800-205-7070 (mid-May to August)
    Telephone: (306) 662-5411 (year-round).


    McDonald Park Dark Sky Preserve
    British Columbia

    McDonald Park Dark Sky Preserve is a small patch of privately run stargazer heaven. A stone's throw from Vancouver, the preserve lies at the foot of Sumas Mountain between Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

    At night, there is restricted access to McDonald Park, which is managed by members of the Fraser Valley Astronomers Society. The society, however, hosts frequent weekend sessions and special events, which are listed on its website. To attend, you'll need to arrive in daylight and park your car just inside the gate, which is locked at nightfall.

    Fraser country is famous for its raptors, and during the day, you can look for bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, owls and ospreys. There is also the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve near Chilliwack.
  2. Last year a friend had a digital camera that overlays star charts to locate stars in the sky. I wish every camera had that.
    sobore likes this.

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