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 the first Ontario Parks Dark Sky Reserve in Killarney Provincial Park (the other is in Lake Superior Provincial Park) with a special “Stars Over Killarney” program. We were joined as co-hosts for this special event by our friends at Science North, one of Canada’s best hands-on science museums.
Art and science intersected as more than 300 visitors were enchanted by both Killarney’s magnificent scenery and the allure of the skies. Entertained by musicians and educated by scientific experts, the dark conditions of the provincial park allowed participants to truly enjoy a rich and complete experience.
To start: a guided tour
The day started at Science North with a show at the Planetarium and a tour of Polaris Boulevard.
Science North scientist Dr. Olathe MacIntyre leads participants along Polaris Boulevard to a massive sundial, while Lucie Robillard explores the night sky with the Science North Planetarium, a popular stop for both school groups and For the general public.
The next step: a difficult decision
Upon arrival at Killarney Provincial Park, participants had to make a decision: a guided walk or a kite-making workshop.
Christine Legrand (Science North Scientist) and Sara McEwan (Killarney Natural Heritage Education Lead) took the hikers to Granite Ridge.
Two of the park’s resident astronomers, Bill and Vicki Sherwood, demonstrated how comets form using dry ice and other key ingredients.
As the sun was setting…
After dinner, participants were entertained with a special song about preserving the dark sky. This song was composed by Brenda Freed in honor of the occasion. She was joined by Michael D’Eath for her premiere.
Hearing 300 voices singing about protecting our skies was inspiring and comforting.
Singing about our dark skies here at Stars over @KillarneyPP.
Do the heavens need our protection? You bet! https://t.co/9Du1ZuEwoy
— Ontario Parks (@OntarioParks) September 23, 2018
Following presentations by Superintendent Jeremy Pawson and Jesse Hildebrand (founder of National Scientific Literacy Week), resident astronomer Vicki Sherwood gave a keynote presentation on the importance of dark skies and what we can all do to improve lighting in the sky. place where we live.
A captivating 700m guided night walk followed a scale model of the solar system, taking the audience from the amphitheater to the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory Complex, where members of the Sudbury and North Bay Astronomy Clubs had targeted more than 20 telescopes of different sizes. different objects in the clear night sky.
At the observatory complex, Professor Will Morin gave an outstanding presentation on the constellations and Ojibwe star tradition (his son Wii’um had previously sung in honor of the autumn equinox).
Bruce Waters, founder of the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory Complex, greeted visitors at the complex’s new 16″ telescope and observatory, while resident astronomer Bill Gardner and education leader Sara McEwan greeted visitors at the telescope and existing 10″ observatory.
Participants enjoyed extraordinary views of Saturn’s rings, craters on the moon, spectacular double stars and more.
By the end of the night, participants had gained a full appreciation of our natural environment maintained in its pristine condition by experiencing first-hand the rich cultural, geological and astronomical diversity available in the Killarney/Sudbury region of Ontario.
Preserving Killarney’s dark skies
Dark skies are a precious natural resource, one that we are proud to protect in our parks.
Killarney is the first provincial park in Ontario to receive the prestigious Dark Sky Reserve designation from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Stargazing in our protected provincial parks is a natural choice, and almost all of our parks offer a view of skies that are often darker and more star-filled than our light-polluted cities.
Do you want to see the planets and galaxies above us better?
Killarney campers can sign in to the park’s Research Complex Observatory for free. So plan a visit; The opportunity to see the depths of space is available to both professional and amateur astronomers.