Eyes on the skies — November

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.

November usually brings our first snows and the opportunity for some great outdoor adventures.

The early sunset and later sunrise provides us with almost 15 hours of darkness in which to observe nighttime splendors.

Here are our astronomical highlights for November 2019:

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Stories in the stars / Pride in our hearts

Today’s post comes from Will Morin, a Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Sudbury and Bruce Waters, a former educator at the McLaughlin Planetarium and founder of the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory.

It’s time we learn the astronomical traditions of the diverse Indigenous cultures in the Americas.

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The long road to Lake Superior Provincial Park’s Dark Sky Preserve

Today’s post comes from Charlotte Westcott, a Discovery Program staff member at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

As the sun sets, the stars begin to appear. Like old friends, their familiar glow brings us home no matter how far away our house may be. Our friendly acquaintances, the constellations, trace their way across the sky. The white glow of the Milky Way emerges slowly to drown out its fainter neighbours.

Far away from the light pollution of major cities, Lake Superior Provincial Park’s night sky is one of the darkest in North America.

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The Lake Superior Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve

On July 17, 2018, Lake Superior Provincial Park was officially recognized as a nationally certified Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, becoming our second provincial park to earn this prestigious designation.

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Astronomy for beginners

Learning about the sun, moon, stars, planets, and beyond is a rewarding experience that makes your park visit all the richer.

Being able to identify the stars and constellations brings a familiarity with the mysteries of the cosmos. Knowledgeable observers may even use the stars to navigate, just as our ancestors have for thousands of years.

But where to get started?

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Stars over Killarney 2018

What happens when two great organizations work together to promote astronomy and dark skies? An incredible experience that captivated visitors from all over Ontario and beyond.

On September 22, 2018, we launched Ontario Parks’ first Dark-Sky Preserve in Killarney Provincial Park (the other is in Lake Superior Provincial Park) with a special “Stars over Killarney” program. Joining us as co-hosts for this special event were our friends at Science North, one of Canada’s best hands-on science museums.

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Summer star parties 2017

Humanity’s fascination with the celestial bodies dates back millennia.

And times haven’t changed.

Camper families love stargazing especially from mid-July to late August during the Perseid meteor shower. At peak time (August 11-12) — if the skies are clear — you can see up to 50-100 meteors an hour!

Star parties are held in our parks every summer, especially in Northern Ontario, where there’s less light pollution.

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