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Thread: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

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    Default Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy



    I know that Bruce Peninsula National Park has great dark skies and I'm going camping for the weekend there next week. Now, I'm basically going into this blind because I have no idea what to expect when it comes to observing. If anyone has ever camped there or even better, used a telescope there, what did you do and where did you set up your telescope? So far the entire park looks heavily forested so any place will be good. Thanks.

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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    I've never been there, but I have read reports from people who have. At the far end of the peninsula, the skies are rated as Bortle 1 (black), as good as it gets.

    Take some big binos and amaze yourself with binocular DSO viewing. Or take a scope and fill in those dim Messiers that you can't normally see. Enjoy!

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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    Are you going to Cyprus lake? Never been there but looking at Google Earth if you follow the park road to the very north end beyond Poplars campground there is a parking lot at the head of the trails. If your taking a scope it looks like that maybe one of the few places you could setup. Wife n I are heading out tomorrow after noon (with our house on wheels) to a provincial park for 6nights. No where near as dark but fairly easy to view from quite a few of the sites in the south campground at McRae Point. Weather looks a bit iffy but with any luck Ill get some viewing/imaging in if at all possible.
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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    Clear Dark Skies has Cabot Head Clear Sky Chart

    If you zoom in it looks like the spot they use for the star party is a clearing. If it's your first trip to a really dark site, binoculars are great.
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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    Singing Sands up at Dorcas Bay north of Wiarton is a great spot, and during the summer, the Bayside Astronomy program holds a star talk and telescope viewing through either a Celestron C11 or a 12" Dob owned by the program. The skies are very dark but the mosquitos can be bad some nights!

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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    I have been to Cyprus Lake, a few years ago. The park is very dark. The area used for the star party is by the group campground. There are not many clear areas around the other campgrounds. I took my scope down to the beach area and did manage some viewing, latter I did a little bit in our campsite. Dorcas Bay will give a much better view of the sky and is very close to the park. Binoculars at Cyprus would be a better choice. I have also camped at Happy Hearts closer to Tobermory, less trees, a few more lights but sky's were still great.
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    Default Re: Bruce Peninsula National Park Astronomy

    I camped a couple of nights at Cyprus Lake a few years ago. I had two telescopes: an GOTO equatorial mounted 6"f8 newtonian and a TeleVue TV-60 on a Manfrotto alt-azimuth mount. Sadly, I didn't have enough room left in the car for the 12.5"f5. Sigh...

    I checked out Dorcas Bay during the day. When I went it was too windy to observe there, and I was a little concerned about light from the cottages on the bay. But public outreach astronomy events are held here, so maybe the light isn't too bad. Horizons are excellent in all directions, especially to the south.

    I looked at the Observation Tower but I did not climb it. I want to try it day and night. It's 20 metres high (about 65 feet), so it's probably too tall for anything but grab 'n' go astronomy gear. I have heard that it sways a bit in the wind, and when people climb it vibrates - not great for high power views. But it's well above the trees, so you'd get good horizons and you'd be above much of the ground effect seeing, so it may be worth a try.

    I set up my gear in the middle of an unoccupied group campsite at Cyprus Lake. Trees blocked a few objects from view, but the trees also formed an excellent wind block. Apart from headlights from 2 or 3 passing vehicles penetrating through the trees there was nothing but starlight and my red light. After the first vehicle knocked out my dark adaptation, the moment I heard a vehicle I turned away, blocked my eyes and waited until the car was long passed before I resumed observing.

    Being located near the end of the long, sparsely populated Bruce Peninsula, the sky was very, very dark: Bortle 2, almost as good as it gets. Seeing was 4/5 and transparency was 5/5. All in all, the sky was darned near perfect. Under this sky I could see the bridge in the Whirlpool Galaxy better in my 6"f8 than I could see in a 20"f5 from a Bortle 4.5 sky. Yep, I'll take a perfect sky and a small scope over an okay sky and a big scope any day - er - night.

    There are restaurants and a surprisingly good grocery store in town. There's lots to see and do in the area in the daytime, too: beautiful scenery, hiking, excellent scuba diving (cold water!) fishing, boat tours canoe rentals, you name it. Be sure to check out "The Grotto". The water is turqoise - like in the tropics! There may be too much to do in the day - if you want to observe all night. You've got to sleep sometime.

    Next time I'll book two weeks instead of two nights, bring a wetsuit, take half the food and twice the telescope. Because even under a perfect sky, aperture rules!
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