Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
See the stars at Killarney's (updated!) observatory

Learning about the sun, moon, stars, planets and more is a rewarding experience that further enriches your visit to the park.

Being able to identify the stars and constellations provides familiarity with the mysteries of the cosmos. Expert observers can even use the stars to orient themselves, just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.

But where to start?

Independent study or group work?

Most of the time we buy a guide or download one of the many applications available. We go back again and again to look at the night sky and compare your view to that of your screen/book.

night skyPhoto: Harold Healey, North Bay Astronomy Club

However, by far (pun intended), the best way to learn about the sky is from other people (preferably in a group). Fortunately, astronomy is one of the best fields for amateurs to get involved in.

Even today, with billion-dollar observatories and tens of thousands of professional astronomers, amateurs routinely make important and practical discoveries that greatly help their professional counterparts.

So how can you have the best of both worlds: camping and learning about the night sky?

In our parks, that’s how it is!

Astronomy has been formally taught in Ontario parks for at least 35 years. Today, parks such as Killarney Provincial Park have a residency program for astronomers.

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These programs involve astronomers providing daily/weekly programs for people of all ages and encourage active participation to enhance the experience.

telescope looking at the night sky

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, one of the oldest and most prestigious astronomical organizations in the world, offers astronomical education in many of our provincial parks through its local centres.

Other organizations, such as the North Bay Astronomy Club, offer similar opportunities. Its members and partner organizations organize Star Parties in the various parks from spring to fall (sometimes winter as well). Many telescopes will be installed here and incredible learning experiences await those who are interested.

Ontario Parks Star Parties 2019

In addition to our annual Stars over Killarney event, check out these Star Parties:

For more information about a Star Party near you, click here.

Do you want to learn something in the meantime?

Check out our “Eyes in the Sky” blog series.