Northern Prairie Star Party 2023

Twenty years ago, the first Northern Prairie Star Party (NPSP) was hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) – Edmonton Centre at the Black Nugget Lake campground located southeast of Tofield. This year’s event will run from Tuesday, September 12 to Sunday, September 17, 2023. Most of our group activities are planned for Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16.

It’s not too late to register and take in the many activities of this year’s NPSP. As a registrant, you are welcome to take in any or all of the events planned from Tuesday to Sunday as listed below and in the 2023 NPSP Schedule, General Information and Ground Rules.

The registration fees are: $30 per person and $60 for a family. We highly recommend that you REGISTER IN ADVANCE by emailing the 2023 NPSP Coordinators emailing coordinators Rick and Susan Bramm. This will help with planning, especially for seating in the event tent and for food for the Saturday BBQ. You have the option of sending payment via e-transfer or paying when you arrive onsite. Additional camping fees apply if you are staying overnightclick here to camping arrangements below.

If you’re NOT camping, PLEASE ENTER and exit via the NORTH GATE off TWP road 492 (see map at: ) between Group Site 8 and site 91. (The campground operator has requested that ONLY those who are camping need to enter through the main campground entrance.) Proceed to the event tent at Site 92 to check in – this is the location of Friday’s workshop and Saturday’s afternoon presentations. If you are coming out in the evening for viewing at the Black Nugget Lake Observatory with the new Unyk-Drew Telescope, you will be directed there when you arrive at the North Gate.

The 32-inch Unyk-Drew Telescope is now installed in the Black Nugget Lake Observatory, with viewing offered every evening during 2023 NPSP from 9 PM to 1:30 AM (viewing conditions permitting). A daytime tour is scheduled on Saturday from 12 to 1 PM.

Before you come out, please review the detailed schedule and rules & regulations (PDF) about this exciting event.

For more information, please review the schedule and rules & regulations (PDF).

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


Friday, September 15, 2023

12 to 2 PM WORKSHOP: Building and Using Your Own Spectroheliograph presented by Brian Martin (Site 92 Event Tent)

Building and Using Your Own Spectroheliograph

In this workshop you will be introduced to a remarkable instrument – the Spectroheliograph.  The talk will begin with a brief presentation on the spectroheliograph and how you can make one using a 3D printer, a kit of parts (or parts you can easily source) and a bit of persistence. Weather permitting, the bulk of the time will be spent actually using a spectroheliograph (SolEx) and learning how to process the data collected. If you have long dreamed of owning a Quark or Lunt solar telescope but could not justify the expense, this may be for you!

BACK FOR THIS YEAR: one-on-one Telescope Tuning and Observing sessions with Alister Ling on Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings. See website for sign up (

Note: other members’ workshops may be available from 2 to 5 PM on observing and astrophotography, if there is interest and volunteers to present. If you would like to present or assist, please let us know! During this time there will be lots of opportunity for informal chatting and sharing – and solar viewing (if conditions permit).


Saturday, September 16, 2023


11:30 – 1:20 PM: Solar observing and telescope set up and use demonstrations (in and around the north shelter area, Site 92)


12 – 1 PM: Black Nugget Lake Observatory Daytime Tour


1:30 PM: Black Nugget Lake Observatory (BNLO) and the 32” Unyk-Drew Telescope

The BNLO Committee (from left to right): Kent Martens, Susan Bramm, Roman Unyk, Alan Hobbs, Warren Finlay (Chair), Luca Vanzella and Rick Bramm.

BNLO Committee Chair Warren Finlay will introduce and show a short documentary film about the building of the Black Nugget Lake Observatory (BNLO) and its 32” telescope. From initial scouting of locations and site development, to constructing the observatory and telescope and final installation and commissioning of the Unyk-Drew Telescope, the volunteer efforts of the BNLO team will be briefly described.


2:40 PM: Retracing Hubble’s Footsteps – Measure the Expanding Universe from your Backyard!

Dr. Brian Martin, Professor Emeritus, Physics and Astronomy, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta

Dr. Brian Martin, Professor Emeritus, Physics and Astronomy, The King’s University

In this talk Brian will look at some of the history surrounding what is arguably one of the most startling discoveries in astronomy. The main thrust of the talk, however, will be a demonstration that Hubble’s great achievement can be duplicated by a diligent amateur astronomer using equipment many of you already possess. The talk will highlight a project done with several astronomy students at the King’s University to reproduce Hubble’s findings. Hopefully this will encourage some of you to add spectroscopy to your skillset and measure for yourself the expansion rate of the universe!

Brain Martin retired from The King’s University where, for more than 30 years, he was Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Educated at both Western University and The University of Alberta, he had the great fortune of completing his PhD under the guidance of Doug Hube. Brian’s research combined two passions which he maintains even in retirement. The first is astrophysics – with special emphasis on stellar variability – while the second is science education and developing tools to foster the visualization of complex scientific ideas. For the last 15 years of his career, he was co-director of The King’s Center for Visualization in Science. His wife Evelyn and he live on an acreage near Sherwood Park where he can enjoy returning to what got him hooked on astronomy more than 60 years ago– the beautiful night sky!


4 PM:  New Views on Old Friends: Nearby Galaxies across the Spectrum

Erik Rosolowsky, Professor, Associate Chair (Undergraduate Studies), Department of Physics, University of Alberta

Erik Rosolowsky, Professor, Associate Chair (Undergraduate Studies), Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

Galaxies are some of the most intriguing deep sky objects that we can see at our star parties. While sighting M100 is an exciting challenge, the visible light we see is only a tiny section of the full electromagnetic spectrum. In this talk, Erik will share a series of the latest images taken by ground- and space-based telescopes of the nearest galaxies to our own. These pictures of galaxies in infrared, ultraviolet and radio light give a new perspective that complements what we see with optical telescopes.

With these images, Erik will give a tour of what these different types of light reveal about galaxies and some recent lessons learned. He will focus on the latest images in infrared light collected by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), highlighting why JWST is uniquely good at studying how a galaxy will change over time. These new JWST images show that a galaxy is a violent place, stirred by supernova explosions over the course of millions of years. JWST data also give us insights as to how galaxies fade away over the course of the universe leaving behind “quenched” galaxies.

Erik Rosolowsky has been a professor of physics at the University of Alberta since 2013. There, he completes research on star formation and teaches physics and astronomy at all levels. Erik received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005, studying the properties of star-forming clouds in nearby galaxies. When he’s not busy working, he enjoys baking, running, as well as board and card games. He lives in Edmonton, with his wife, son, and a feisty dog named Rigel.


5:30 ~ 7 PM:  BBQ, door prizes and group photo of NPSP participants


Sunday, September 17

10 AM – 12 NOON: Time to informally meet at the event tent (Site 92), hand in your Observing Lists, pack up and leave your campsite.


OBSERVING LISTS – Attendees are welcome to complete one or more Observing Certificate (three levels, from observing “with keen eyes and no optical aid” to “uncommonly observed objects for advanced observers”). We will also run a mini-bimarathon interweaving five laps around a short cross-country course (each lap is 700 meters in length) with observing 10 specified Messier objects. Lists will be available at the event.


CAMPING ARRANGEMENTS – If you are planning to stay out overnight, contact event coordinators Rick and Susan Bramm via email at to reserve a site. Sites 88 to 112 and the Group Site 8 have been set aside for booking by the NPSP attendees for Tuesday, September 12 through Saturday, September 16. Here is the link to the campground map, showing the sites: The minimum booking period is for two (2) nights. 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. As of July 25, 2023, all powered sites have been booked for the Friday and Saturday nights, but you can still reserve for Tuesday through Thursday or be put on a waiting list.

To ensure you get your preferred site, please book soon, following these steps:

  • Identify a first and second choice for campsite. Send email to with your request – give site numbers, which nights you will be there, the dimensions of your RV/trailer or vehicle and any special circumstances to be considered.
  • We will confirm which site has been set aside for you and reservation fees required. In some cases, we may need to assign you to a site that already has another party on it (if there is adequate room for more than one party). Each of the six powered sites can accommodate at least two parties. The power pedestal has two 115V sockets and one 30A 124 V socket for Recreational Vehicle Use only.


We will pre-order the 2023 NPSP t-shirts like we have done in the past, designed by Rick Bramm to commemorate this year’s special event. To place an order,, indicating if you would like (1) a long or short-sleeved t-shirt and (2) size youth, small, medium, large, extra-large, double extra-large or triple extra-large. The cost is $25 for short-sleeved shirts and $30 for long-sleeved shirts. The design of this year’s shirt will be posted in August. The deadline for ordering your shirt is Friday, September 1, 2023.


When you attend the 2023 Northern Prairie Star Party, you will receive two draw tickets, one for prizes given out during the afternoon presentations and the other for prizes awarded at the BBQ – donated by several generous donors and suppliers.

We are most grateful for these prize sponsor’s ongoing support.


If you have new or used items you would like to donate, we would love to hear from you! In the past this has ranged from beginner telescopes, various astro accessories, books, memorabilia and astronomy-related art! If you would like to donate a prize, please email Rick and Susan Bramm,

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