Killarney observatory

See the stars at Killarney’s (upgraded!) observatory

Did you know Killarney is one of only two provincial parks with an observatory?

And the park observatory, which hosts a variety of astronomy programs throughout the summer, recently got an upgrade!

In spring of 2018, the observatory in Killarney Provincial Park was upgraded to feature a new research-grade 16″ telescope capable of full computer and smartphone control, an attached 5″ refractor for outstanding astro-photography, plus the original 10” telescope, available on special astronomy program nights.

observatory

The original telescope is a Mease Cassegrain design with a manual mount. This makes it easy for beginners to get the hang of moving the telescope toward objects without worrying about confusing electronics.

The telescope and observatory were generously donated in 2010 by the Waters family to celebrate 25 years of astronomy in the park. The new mount was donated by Bill Gardner and his family in 2011.

In a park not too far away…

Killarney’s summer astronomy programs include drop-in nights with guest astronomers, as well as formal presentations and planet walks.

Bill Gardner with Bruce Waters

Join an astronomer-in-residence every Tuesday night at the park observatory for a chance to get a close-up view of Jupiter, Saturn, and some of the most obscure celestial bodies in the night sky!

Self-use program (summer only)

As of 2017, Killarney has offered a self-use program for the observatory. This was created to allow anyone with an interest in astronomy to explore the night sky using a telescope.

Never touched a telescope before? No problem. The program was designed with all experience levels in mind.

Families or individuals can sign out the observatory for themselves, and spend an evening exploring the night sky.

How it works

Guests are asked to come to the gate house between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm to sign out the observatory for the evening. Sign-out is on a first come-first serve basis. Observatory use requires a deposit of $200.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll head to the site with a staff member who will provide instruction on how to use the observatory, including the dome and the telescope.

Killarney observatory

There are cheat sheets in the observatory for when the staff are not present that go through steps on how to set up the telescope and locate objects.

Once it’s dark, gather at the observatory, and spend the night looking at planets, the moon, double stars, galaxies and more!

We ask stargazers to:

  • fill out the log book with your observations
  • return the key by 10:00 am the next day (and retrieve your deposit)
  • complete a questionnaire letting us know how your night went

This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to learn about what is in our night sky, and spend a great evening stargazing in Killarney Provincial Park.

Want a preview of what to look for on your visit?

Check out our “Eyes on the Skies” series, written by Bruce Waters, for night sky highlights.