Imagine a place with peaked hills and rolling plans, devoid of trees, an arid climate, hot and dry in daytime, cool and clear in the night. Without external lights visible the dome of a starry night is free to stretch overhead & curve back to meet the horizon in all directions. In the distance bison wallow in the growing darkness while black footed ferrets and other nocturnal creatures emerge from their daytime slumber. More details below eye-candy images.
Image Courtesy Mike O'Brien
From East Block observe from almost 3,200 feet as the stars culminate over the Killdeer Badlands.
A Starry Starry Night at Grasslands West Block by Kathleen Houston
Astronomers Gather by Kathleen Houston
Image Vincent Amyotte, Crossings Campground Val Marie July 2010
Much like these creatures of the night, astronomers have awoke and set up telescopes along a high
ridge far away from city glow and invite you to join them at the eyepiece to experience the night sky in
it's most natural and beautiful state. Our Milky-Way appears as a brilliant white river torn by dark seams
of dust and through the telescope faint nebula and star clusters stimulate the imagination.
This is Grasslands National Park Dark Sky Preserve (DSP).
Mark These Weekends;
May 19th to 21st & July 20th & 21st on your calendar!!!
These are the dates for two star parties taking place within the Grasslands National Party Dark-Sky Preserve (DSP).
Once again the Saskatoon & Regina Centres will combine their efforts with National Park staff for observing under some of the best skies anywhere.
The Grasslands DSP was declared on October 2, 2009 at a ceremony in the West Block near Val Marie. Coupled with the declaration was the reintroduction of Black-footed Ferrets, a nocturnal hunter, to the Grasslands National Park. The marriage of dark skies and ferrets increased awareness for the preservation of pristine nighttime skies. As a matter of fact, virtually all of Grasslands is very dark and rated as a Bortle 1 site!
Thin + West Block thick + is McGowans
LP dome below Two Trees terminated since inception of DSP
In July 2010 Saskatoon and Regina RASC, along with National Park Staff, put on the first annual DSP star party. Grasslands National Park has continued to work closely with the RASC.
A Grasslands Star Party is not a traditional star party; no event t-shirt, no astronomy vendors, no early morning talks you need to wake up for, there are no fees other than affordable accommodations or inexpensive camping and what you choose to cook, we come to observe under pristine dark skies and support the Grasslands National Park Dark Sky Preserve. All are welcome!
May 19th to 21st EAST BLOCK - 2nd Annual star party will be held at the campground at the east entrance to the East Block at "McGowan Place" about 50 km southwest of Assiniboia. A campground with basic facilities and limited power but there is a renovated farm house we use as a warm room. Hikes into dinosaur bone deposits and quicksand pits are available for the astronomers.
Directions Click HERE!
July 19th & 20th WEST BLOCK - 3rd Annual star party will be held at the new Frenchman River Campground a 20-minute drive into the park from Val Marie in the West Block. Friday Night - Just for astronomers
Saturday Night - Wagon Rides Suppers Music then black footed Ferrit spotlighting evening ends with astronomy which will begin at 9:30. Frenchman Valley Campground has 24 camping spots, RV parking there as well.
Image Courtesy Vincent Amyotte - Two Trees astronomy site- Jul 2010
Right now, we are working on details so we will update this section later. Also, some members may wish to arrive a day or two early for further park and night sky exploration.
If you are interested in participating or would like more information about the Grasslands Astronomy Adventure contact;
Saskatoon - Rick Huziak - rickhuziak at shaw.ca - 665-3392
Regina - Chris Beckett- info at astronomyregina.ca - 789-9365
Grasslands National Park - call 1-877-345-2257
Crossings Resort - recommended dark sky camping, Ken is a partner of the DSP :)
Grasslands National Park
Village of Val Marie
Grasslands East Block Clear Sky Clock
Grasslands West Block Clear Sky Clock