Killarney observatory

Astronomy for beginners

Learning about the sun, moon, stars, planets, and beyond is a rewarding experience that makes your park visit all the richer.

Being able to identify the stars and constellations brings a familiarity with the mysteries of the cosmos. Knowledgeable observers may even use the stars to navigate, just as our ancestors have for thousands of years.

But where to get started?

Independent study or group work?

More often than not, we purchase a guide book or download one of the many available apps. We return time and time again to view the night sky and compare your view to that of your screen/book.

night sky
Photo: Harold Healey, North Bay Astronomy Club

However, far and above (pun intended) the best way to learn about the sky is from others (preferably in a group setting). Fortunately, astronomy is one of the best fields for amateurs to get involved in.

Even today, with billion-dollar observatories and tens of thousands of professional astronomers, amateurs routinely make significant and practical discoveries that greatly aid their professional counterparts!

So how can you have the best of both worlds: camping and learning about the night sky?

In our parks, that’s how!

Astronomy has been formally taught in Ontario Parks for at least 35 years. Today, parks like Killarney Provincial Park have an astronomer in residence program.

These programs involve astronomers providing daily/weekly programs for people of all ages and encourages active participation to further one’s experience.

telescope looking at night sky


The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious astronomy organizations, offers astronomy education in many of our provincial parks through its local centres.

Other organizations, such as the North Bay Astronomy Club, provide similar opportunities. Their members and collaborating organizations run Star Parties in the various parks from spring until fall (sometimes in the winter as well). Here, many telescopes will be setup and incredible learning experiences await those who are interested.

Ontario Parks star parties 2019

In addition to our annual Stars over Killarney event, check out these Star Parties:

For more information about a Star Party near you, click here.

Want to do some learning in the meantime?

Check out our “Eyes on the skies” blog series.