Northern Prairie Star Party 2019

The sixteenth annual Northern Prairie Star Party was held at the Black Nugget Lake campground south east of Tofield from September 24 to 29, 2019. Most of our group activities occured on Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28.

This event is open to the public – registration fees apply. Camping fees apply if staying overnight.*

For more information, please review the schedule and rules & regulations (PDF) and the Northern Prairie Star Party main page.

If you need more information or have questions, please email Rick Bramm.

Friday Program (September 27)

3 to 5 pm

Workshop: Automating your Astro-Imaging System
by David Fielder

Have you ever thought how nice it would be to control your astro-imaging setup without having annoying mosquitoes around in the summer or trying to keep warm at this time of year? What about being about spending more time viewing while image acquisition is doing its thing? There is a solution – automation!

As a new amateur astronomer, I’ll provide some of the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through, as I’ve put together a fully automated system. Not only does this allow me to control everything in the comforts of home or at a star party, it allows me to spend time viewing at the same time as imaging. Software data acquisition, computers and communication will be discussed.

This should also be a good opportunity for those more experienced to share their experiences and relatively newcomers to astro-imaging to learn more.

Saturday Program (September 28)

NEW! 11 am to 1 pm

Tour the Black Nugget Lake Observatory (BNLO) building – drop by for a short tour of the BNLO building by one of the members of the BNLO Committee.

1:45 pm
Project-based astronomy:
A fantastic way to ignite students’ interest in science

Ian Doktor
Jasper Place High School physics and math teacher (with students)

Bio: Ian Doktor is a passionate science educator and amateur astronomer. He spends his nights doing Astrophotography, Photometry and Spectroscopy and his days teaching Astronomy and Physics at Jasper Place high school. Several of his students have been involved in a variety of science and Astronomy projects including Variable Star Observations, Spectroscope construction and Gravitational Torsion Balance building.

2:45 pm
Liftoff! The Story of the First Made-In-Alberta Satellites

Callie Lissinna
Project Manager, AlbertaSat, University of Alberta

The successful launch of the Ex-Alta 1 satellite marked our province’s place in space in May 2017. The satellite was designed and built at the University of Alberta by the AlbertaSat team comprised of about 50 students, mostly undergraduate volunteers, guided by faculty members. The Ex-Alta 1 mission paved the way for the upcoming Ex-Alta 2 satellite and inspired graduating students to pursue their own ventures in the space sector. Ex-Alta 2 is now slated to launch in 2021 as part of a national mission run by the Canadian Space Agency. Come learn about our province’s first spacecraft and what the students who made it will be doing next.

Bio: Passionate about space technology, Callie has been designing and operating satellites with the AlbertaSat team for four years. She was one of the primary operators of the Ex-Alta 1 satellite and is now Project Manager of its successor, Ex-Alta 2. Drawing on this experience, in 2018 she and three of her colleagues co-founded a space company, Wyvern, which will provide Earth observation data from a satellite platform. She is a strong advocate for women in STEM and for educational outreach. Beyond engineering she enjoys training competitive dancers at an Edmonton dance studio. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Alberta, studying mechanical engineering.

3:45 pm
Solar system dynamics and the remaining outstanding
puzzles in our understanding of planetary formation

Brett Gladman
Full Professor, UBC and Canada Research Chair in Planetary Astronomy

Bio: Brett Gladman graduated with a Bachelor of Science in physics at the University of Alberta in 1988, completing a thesis project on solar system dynamics under Professor Doug Hube. He completed his PhD in Astronomy at Cornell University in 1996 and continued with post-doctoral studies in Nice, France and Toronto. He became a faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia in 2002. His research involves small-body detection and tracking using many telescopes around the world, large-scale celestial mechanics and studies of planetary formation and evolution.

Telescope Clinics

Are you going to NPSP and are you going to bring your telescope? Are you confused about using your telescope? Then keep reading.

If you want one-on-one help with your telescope, sign up for a FREE Telescope Clinic.

Can’t figure which end is up, how to align the finder or collimate? I can help. You can bring your scope to the main area or I can do a house call at your campsite. Assembly problems are best handled during daylight slots. Polar alignment and tracking issues best post 9pm.

Please sign up for Scope Clinic 1-on-1 with your telescope at NPSP 2019!

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:
1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on
3. Sign up! Choose your spot – will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

Note: does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact Alister Ling and I can sign you up manually.

Observing Certificates

During the star party (Tues to Sunday) participants are welcome to complete one or more Observing Certificates (three levels, from observing “with keen eyes and no optical aid” to “uncommonly observed objects for advanced observers”) and/or the mini-bimarathon, interweaving five 700-metre laps around a short cross-country course with observing 10 specified Messier objects. Pick up the applicable instructions when you register onsite.


The 2019 NPSP t-shirt design features an image of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin descending the ladder of the Lunar Module 50 years ago, on July 20, 1969. To help us with ordering the shirts, please let us know by emailing Rick Bramm if you would like (1) a long or short-sleeved t-shirt and (2) size extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large or double extra-large. The cost is $20 for short-sleeved shirts and $25 for long-sleeved shirts. The deadline for ordering a shirt is Monday, September 9 (the night of our next RASC Edmonton Centre meeting).

Spectacular Prizes!!

When you attend the 2019 Northern Prairie Star Party, you will receive two tickets, one will be for prizes given out at the end of the presentations and the other for prizes to be awarded at the BBQ – donated by All-Star Telescope, the Royal Astronomical Society – Edmonton Centre, individual RASC members and Fervent Astronomy. We have a variety of prizes this year, including several books for beginners and children, a children’s astronomy game, a puzzle, astronomy-related jewelry and novelty items and a “mystery prize”.

A big thank you to All-Star Telescope for their steadfast and generous support of the Northern Prairie Star Party – and for the grand prize this year: a Skywatcher Telescope! Also, this year we welcome Fervent Astronomy, a new Edmonton-based astronomy equipment provider who has donated a QHC CCD Polemaster for a door prize and will be onsite for our event.

Interested in Donating a Prize?

If you would like to donate a prize, please email Rick Bramm.

* It is highly recommended that star party attendees who are planning to camp overnight reserve a site in the northern portion of the campground as soon as possible. Starting May 1, call the campground operator at 780-663-2421 to reserve, stating that you are attending the Northern Prairie Star Party.

If you need more information or have questions, please email Rick Bramm.