From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 1

This post kicks off a three-part photographic journey into the history of our universe! Read on to explore the key events that led to the formation of our provincial parks and the natural world we live in.

Have you ever stared up into a starry sky and wondered “how did it all begin?”

Today we will discuss the origins of the universe, the evolution of galaxies and globular clusters, and conclude with a history of the first stars and supernovae.

Stay tuned for Part II where we detail how stars are born and live out their lives, including the formation of the planets. Finally in Part III, we will discuss how different stars end their lives.

So let’s get started with our origin story!

Continue reading From the Big Bang to beyond: the astronomical origins of the universe – part 1

Eyes on the skies — October

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the skies” series. This will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

October is a month of transition as the last few warm days depart and we prepare ourselves for winter.

But cold weather does not mean we should abandon the great outdoors. On the contrary, the peace and serenity found at this time of the year make a trip to any park all the more enjoyable.

Here are our astronomical highlights for October, 2021:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies — October

Health benefits of dark skies

Today’s blog comes from our Healthy Parks Healthy People Coordinator Sarah McMichael. 

My most memorable camping memory didn’t come from a crackling campfire, a panoramic lookout, or a stunning sandy beach.

It happened at 3:00 am at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

As I stumbled out of my tent for a late-night bathroom break, I noticed something different about the sky above me. There were stars.

A LOT of stars.

Continue reading Health benefits of dark skies

Eyes on the skies — September

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the skies” series. This series covers a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

Many people consider September to be the finest month of the year to enjoy Ontario’s outdoors.

The bugs have all but left and the daytime temperatures are cooler, making the weather ideal for strenuous activities such as hiking or canoeing. To top it off, the leaves begin their beautiful transition through the colours of fall.

With the much shorter days, the nighttime skies are full of celestial splendours that we hope you will enjoy discovering in this edition of “Eyes on the skies.”

Here are our astronomical highlights for September, 2021:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies — September

Featured constellations: a water bearer, flying horse and southern fish

In last month’s featured constellations, we discussed Sagittarius, Capricornus and Delphinus.

In our September edition, we discuss Pegasus the flying horse (moose or baseball diamond), Aquarius the water bearer, and Piscis Austrinus the southern fish.

Continue reading Featured constellations: a water bearer, flying horse and southern fish

Do the skies need our protection?

Stars as seen in midnight’s gaze
Stars shining upon shoreline’s haze
Guiding us, teaching us with stories manifold
About ourselves, stars speak, from birth till old.
Their permanence ties us to days gone by
But to hide their secrets, they still do try
To gaze upon them brings dreams of futures bright
But to see them vanish, is to lose much delight.

~Bruce Waters

At Ontario Parks, we’re committed to the protection and preservation of our province’s biodiversity. The night skies in their natural splendour are an important part of that protection.

Continue reading Do the skies need our protection?

Eyes on the skies — August

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

August is here at last with its fine weather, fewer mosquitos, and longer nights. All of the constellations and objects from July are still visible, but there are a few exciting new things to see this month.

Here are our astronomical highlights for August 2021:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies — August

Eyes on the skies — July

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

July has finally arrived. Summer is the perfect time to escape the noise, air, and light pollution of the larger urban areas and head to the peace and serenity of a provincial park.

July also hosts a number of beautiful constellations, full of interesting stories to tell.

Here are our astronomical highlights for July, 2021:

Continue reading Eyes on the skies — July

Featured constellations: Madoodiswan, Noondeshin Bemaadizid, and Madoodoowasiniig

In this month’s featured constellations, we will discuss two Anishinaabek constellations that are prominent at this time of the year: Madoodiswan (the Sweat Lodge) and Noondeshin Bemaadizid (the Exhausted Bather).

Continue reading Featured constellations: Madoodiswan, Noondeshin Bemaadizid, and Madoodoowasiniig