Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve 5th Annual Star Party

bhdsp_dark_skiesBeaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve
5th Annual Star Party

Wilderness Astronomy

Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park

Sunday, Sep 5, 2010

Thank you for supporting your local national park by purchasing an entry pass at the park gates and campground kiosk. The event is free for all visitors with a valid park pass.

On the Labour Day weekend join us for our annual celebration of Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve (BHDSP) hosted by

  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Edmonton Centre
  • Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation and Culture
  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Strathcona Wilderness Centre
  • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Sunday, September 5th marked the fourth anniversary of the creation of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve. The BHDSP  welcomed our new partner, Sherwood Fish and Game: Ketchamoot Creek Recreation and Conservation Area, into the BHSDP.

Outdoor activities included public stargazing with astronomers using a variety of telescopes, children’s activities, an unveiling ceremony, and guided hikes. Indoor activities included astronomical presentations and making red light flashlights.

Outdoor Event Program

3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Painting the Elk Island Skies
– Meet at the Playground
Let the natural surroundings inspire you to create a water colour masterpiece.  Painting supplies are provided.  Take your creations home with you!

5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Welcoming Ceremony – Blue Events Tent – Astotin Lake Area
Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve partners welcome Sherwood Fish and Game Ketchamoot Creek Recreation and Conservation Area and are also proud to unveil the fourth and final Dark Sky interpretive panel: ‘Be “Sky-wise”: Reduce Lights and keep Dark Skies’.

8:30 p.m.
Nightfall, Stars Up! – Astronomy begins outdoors
View Jupiter, star clusters, nebulae and other galaxies beyond the Milky Way.  Telescopes will be set up courtesy of RASC volunteers, amateur astronomers and Parks Canada if skies are clear, at three locations within the Astotin Lake Area:
Lawn Area
Main parking lot
Pavilion – Cook Shelter overlooking the beach
Astotin Theatre – Back Deck


Indoor Event Program

Astotin Theatre

6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Red Light Flashlight Making
Bring a flashlight to cover with red, night-friendly material that we will supply. Outdoors by lobby entrance.

7:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Adventures in Wilderness Astronomy
Award winning science journalist Peter McMahon talked about dark sky preserves across Canada and some of the camping-specific ways to take advantage of the night sky through specialized gear, little-known sites, and local lore. Peter has covered space shuttle launches, witnessed a new carnivore unearthed on a dinosaur dig, walked through a stadium-sized particle accelerator and descended into a solar observatory 2 km underground.

8:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
Wild Meteorite Chase
Dr. Erin Walton brought treasures of wild space for her talk! Audience could view visiting Lunar and Martian meteorites and learn about their travels. Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Bruce McCurdy and Alberta Park’s Cecilia Goncalves took audience members from this presentation to an informative starry-storytelling session under the dark skies.

9:00 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.
The Truth About Hoaxes
Frank Florian, TELUS World of Science Edmonton, dispelled the myths and excels at casting a spell over the audience with real science. Can Mars look as big as the Moon in our sky?  Did we really land on the Moon? What is the Sun really up to?  Do the Mayans control our fate in 2012? 

10:00 p.m. – 10:45 p.m. (CANCELLED)
Wild Stellar Stories
Peter McMahon will share stories from researching his first of two space tourism books for Kids Can Press, in which he’s talked to Richard Branson, Anousheh Ansari (first female space tourist), NASA astronauts, and SpaceshipOne test pilots. Peter will also talk about his exclusive access to the inside of the Sudbury Neutrino observatory for an Innovation Canada story and meeting up with Stephen Hawking for a CTV News story.

Peter’s accounts will kick-off an ‘open microphone’ for local astronomers and stargazers. In the event of cloudy weather, come inside and listen to this strange breed of starry adventurers and see their amazing images of the universe. 


Making Your Visit More Enjoyable

Food Service

3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Elk Island Golf Course
Light meals and beverages available for purchase at the Golf Course Clubhouse.

6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. – Mobile Food Concession
Angel Food Services on located near the Astotin Theatre, or bring your own picnic lunch to the national park.  Picnic tables are located throughout the Astotin Lake Area.

Washrooms Facilities
Accessible washrooms are located at the Astotin Theatre, near the Dark Sky Panels and at the boat launch parking lot. Washrooms in the Astotin Theatre are open 24 hours a day – accessed via the exterior of the building. Portable washroom facilities available on site.

Astotin Theatre
The Astotin Theatre will be closed at 11:00 p.m.
Please no pets or food in the Astotin Theatre.
As seating is limited, tickets will be available at the lobby starting at 6:00 p.m.

Telescopes will be set up courtesy of volunteers and amateur astronomers. They are more than happy to have you take a look through their lens. Don’t be shy to ask!


Star Party Survival Kit
Be Star-Bright!  Bring a flashlight to cover with red, night-friendly material that we will supply. Make a red-light flashlight for the enjoyment of all.

Please dress for the weather and night time temperatures.  Insect repellent is recommended.

Most activities will proceed  ‘rain or star-shine’, however telescopic viewing requires a clear sky.

Children must be accompanied by an adult.