There are those who think that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for many RASC members, their favourite time is at the Spruce Woods Star Party.
Many reasons come together for this to be so, but the most common thread that has been expressed is the camaraderie of friends and new friendships made. Doesn’t matter if it’s clear or cloudy, that thread remains and keeps our members coming back, year after year to enjoy this special experience together.
Regardless of your experience level, the SWSP has something to offer you. The dark skies are quite magnificent and SQM (sky quality meter) readings of 21.6 are typical. So from the dark skies to the presentations, you will certainly find something of interest.
Once you arrive and look across the observing field, you will see row upon row of impressive telescopes. Walk the rows and talk to your fellow members about their gear – they love to share their knowledge and experience. Do the same at night and you might get a chance to see your favorite deep sky objects through those same scopes!
Because the equipment on display can’t help but to garner attention, the SWSP Committee conducts a “scope tour” where members have a chance to talk about their particular scope, mount or other piece of equipment for all the see. This year, we will also have a “solar scope tour” where you will get the chance to observe the sun through different scopes.
Probably the most popular feature of the star party is Gerry’s Bino Tour. It’s a must see event and everyone comes away having learned a bit more (actually a lot more) about the cosmos and how valuable a pair of binoculars are to the amateur astronomer.
If it’s cloudy – no problem! The SWSP Committee will set up a projector so we can all watch a movie together, or we’ll all gather around a bonfire and share snacks and stories.
For spouses / significant others who attend, the Park is full of other, non-astronomical activates to enjoy by day. Bird watch, hike the many trails, bike across the park, do some fishing along the Assiniboine river, visit the nearby town of Glenboro for their farmer’s market or take a drive throughout the countryside – there are many options!
Because of the success of this event and the dark skies of the park, RASC members Tim Kennedy and Sandy Sewchuk have submitted an application to the RASC National to have the Spruce Woods Provincial Park made into Manitoba’s first Dark Sky Preserve. This is incredibly exciting for both our Centre and Manitoba Parks, and we hope to hear the results of this application soon.
How to get there
Spruce Woods Provincial Park is located approximately 170 km west of Winnipeg on Hwy 5, south of Carberry. You may take either Highways 1 or 2. Here is a map to help you get there.
The park entrance is accessible from Hwy 5, approximately 1 km south of the Assiniboine River bridge. For those who have been to Spruce Woods before, this is the new entrance to the park. The old entrance near the bridge has been removed.
The observing field is located just past the Winter Recreation Area. This map will help you find it.
Star Party schedule
The full schedule is now available.
Registration is now open. Download and fill out the registration form. Once completed, please mail the form and payment to Stan Runge at the address listed on the form. Register before August 15th and save up to $20!
Camping and accommodations
Option 1: SWSP Observing field (most recommended) – This is where most members gather to share their passion for astronomy. It is an open field in the Winter Use Area with trees far enough away to give an open dark sky. There is no service but non-modern toilets are available.
Option 2: Campsite at the Kiche Manitou Campground – Located about 0.5 km from the observing field. Electrical and basic sites available. Visit http://prspub.gov.mb.ca or call 204-948-3333 (in Winnipeg) or 1-888-482-2267 toll-free to reserve a site.
Option 3: Yurts at Kiche Manitou Campground – Yurts are currently all reserved. Check http://prspub.gov.mb.ca for availability should someone cancel their reservation.
Option 4: If camping isn’t your style, there are many lodgings nearby for you to rest when you’re done your night under the stars. The following PDF contains some of the places you may be interested in.
Click here for a list of lodgings.
The banquet will be held at the Raystone Memorial Centre (214 Broadway Street, Glenboro, MB) on Sunday, September 1st at 5:00 P.M.
Star Party Etiquette
The Spruce Woods Star Party is a Red-Light Only Zone from sundown to sun-up. Do not use white lights of any kind.
For more Star Party etiquette guidelines, click here.
Photos from the 2015 Star Party
(courtesy of Bryan Stach)
Click on photo for a larger version.