An astronomy lover’s guide to stargazing in Ontario

There’s something infinitely wonderful about looking out at a sky filled with stars — and in Ontario, we have some of the most beautiful spots designated just for stargazing.

With roughly 80 per cent of Canada uninhabited, there are vast expanses of untouched and pristine wilderness far from the lights and noise of our biggest cities.

But despite being blessed with so much natural splendor, light pollution is a growing problem that reaches far beyond our city limits and expanding infrastructure, making stargazing more difficult to do with each passing year.

Thankfully, however, growing efforts to protect the beauty of our night skies are in place, with numerous designated dark sky locations cropping up all over Canada and beyond.

From astronomers and conservationists to those simply looking to disconnect from 21st-century life for a night, being able to marvel at an untarnished night sky is a gift worth preserving.

So, to help spread the joy of stargazing far and wide, here is a helpful guide to spark your cosmic Ontario journey.

Southern Ontario:

Point Pelee National Park

Head to the southern tip of Canada to experience Point Pelee’s renowned Dark Sky Preserve, which, since 2006, has offered special stargazing nights that run throughout the year. What’s more, you’ll even get an astronomical map to help you out.

Fathom Five National Park and the Bruce Peninsula National Park

Known for its striking beauty and turquoise waters, the Bruce Peninsula is a fantastic place to observe the night sky. Visit Fathom Five National Park, located near Tobermory, where you’ll see the Milky Way’s countless stars reflected in pristine waters. Or head to Bruce Peninsula National Park and enjoy free summertime Star talks hosted by Bayside Astronomy.

Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre

Also located in the Bruce, you’ll find the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre, a unique designated deep-sky preserve, where you can immerse yourself in a sparkling starscape learning experience hosted by their astronomical society. Don’t miss out on this dazzling adventure!

Eastern Ontario:

North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve

Located an hour and a half from Kingston, Ontario’s North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve has some seriously fabulous stargazing opportunities. Equipped with a stargazing pad that offers parking and washroom access, viewing the beauty of the night sky has never been easier.

Lennox-Addington Dark Sky Preserve

A mere 40 minutes from the North Frontenac location is the equally remarkable Lennox-Addington Dark Sky Preserve, where numerous summer astronomical events such as laser-guided stargazing tours and educational moon observation nights are a hit.

Central Ontario:

Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve

Head to central Ontario’s Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve and encounter spectacular celestial viewing opportunities. Named the first permanent dark sky preserve worldwide, its location is an optimal spot for some of the best stargazing in Ontario. Here, you’ll have the chance to glimpse at far-off planets and an endless sea of stars.

Northern Ontario:

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Offering some of the darkest expanses of sky in the world, Lake Superior Provincial Park is an astronomy-lover’s paradise. From the serene shores of Agawa Bay, watch the ethereal beauty of the starscape that blankets the night sky. You may even get to see the northern lights.

Manitoulin Eco Park

Take a camping trip and sleep under the big sky at Manitoulin Eco Park for an unforgettable night with the cosmos. With several special events throughout the summer, the eco park offers astronomy nights and stargazing hikes that will surely inspire your soul.

Killarney Provincial Park

One of the best places for camping adventures, Killarney Provincial Park also boasts spectacular dark skies for those looking to track the heavens. Reserve time with the observatory’s (free) professional-grade telescope and explore the universe up close, or learn about the constellations at one of the Stars Over Killarney special events.

Quetico Provincial Park

Newest to the list of official Dark Sky Preserves, Quetico Provincial Park is located approximately two hours from Thunder Bay. Having been granted this special status in 2021 by the International Dark Sky Association, the park has gone to great lengths to ensure dark sky standards are met. Here, you’ll encounter the otherworldly beauty of the Milky Way and catch the Northern Lights that dazzle the sky after dark.

To help you plan your big stargazing adventure, don’t forget to save the dates for these upcoming astronomical events:

2023 Moon Watching

Oct. 14: Annular Solar Eclipse

Oct. 28: Partial Lunar Eclipse

2023 Meteor Showers

Aug. 13: Perseids Meteor Shower

Oct. 8-9: Draconids Meteor Shower

Oct. 21-22: Orionids Meteor Shower

Nov. 17-18: Leonids Meteor Shower

Dec. 13-14: Geminids Meteor Shower

Dec. 22-23: Ursids Meteor Shower

Originally posted 2023-08-07 17:01:28.