This 'Dark Sky' viewing site allows you to see the night sky without light pollution
OTTAWA -- It is the summer of "staycations" and many are looking for things to do close to home.
The night sky offers a universe of stargazing, allowing you to see far away places. However, light pollution in the city limits how much of the night sky you’re able to see.
To see everything the night sky has to offer, you will need to hop in your car and head to an area with a darker sky. There is a spot in eastern Ontario that’s free from the glow of city lights.
Lennox-Addington has a "dark sky" viewing site. It’s located about one hour and 45-minutes south-west of Ottawa, near Napanee.
- ON THE MAP: Lennox & Addington Dark SKy Viewing Area
“We have a real pocket of dark sky in the central part of our county,” says Rob Plumley, the Community Development Officer for Lennox & Addington County.
The site is basic, and offers a large level concrete pad - perfect for setting up telescopes or astrophotography equipment, but; it is the lack of light pollution that’s most important.
“The viewing conditions are the same as they were about a hundred years ago, which is pretty cool for people that are looking to see the night sky like it was meant to be seen,” says Plumley.
He says first time visitors are amazed.
“It’s pretty overwhelming; we’ve had people that have gotten out of their vehicles, and it sounds a little bit cheesy, but they’ve looked up and started to cry because they haven’t seen this many stars since they were a kids. They’re pretty taken a back by how beautiful it really is to see that unimpeded view of the sky.”
And you don’t need expensive equipment to be amazed, says Plumley.
“If you want to bring a blanket or a camping chair, that’s basically all you need to see the stars.”
Some do bring gear with them. Joe Gilker is an Astrophotographer, and says the conditions are perfect.
“Especially the Milky Way is a big one; you can’t really see that in any urban area.”
Gilker uses the site mostly for taking pictures of the deep-sky, “Quick, convenient, and very accessible site for people… Can’t go any further south in Ontario and get a site this dark.”
He says if you want to try "Astrophotography," you’ll definitely need a tripod and, he says even a very basic DSLR will work.
“Even a cheap DSLR with a kit lens is enough to get started; to get reasonable images.”
But be careful, he says it’s addictive once you start seeing results. You’ll want to invest in more advanced equipment,
“It’s also a very, very, very slippery slope, because, once you start getting really good pictures, it’s like - oh my god, I’m getting this!”
Physical Distancing circles have been set-up, so that stargazers are kept apart. Plumley does suggest that people wear masks, as it is not always easy to see others in the dark. Your best to visit on a moonless night, for best results.