About the Star Party
The Spruce Woods Star Party is a place where amateur and professional astronomers alike gather to observe the night sky in one of Southern Manitoba’s darkest spots in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. It is a weekend excursion where RASC members camp amongst approximately 60 to 80 participants in the late summer; three nights are spent under the stars in a wide, open field where you can camp and set up your equipment in one spot. The Spruce Woods Star Party attracts beginners as well as serious observers so regardless of whether you’re starting your journey through the stars or you’re a seasoned astrophotographer trying to get that perfect shot, the Spruce Woods Star Party brings us all together to mingle and learn from one another while having a great time doing so!
Organized events include guided sky tours under the stars, daytime workshops from our knowledgable membership and special guest speakers, a catered dinner at the Glenboro Community Centre, and a big group breakfast on the final day before packing up and heading home. Of course, there’s plenty for you to do outside of the scheduled events. Our campground at Spruce Woods is located in a large clearing with an unobstructed view of the sky. Set up your equipment for a long night of breathtaking views, and enjoy the company of your peers in Manitoba’s largest astronomy club. During the day you are also free to be your own spirit; there are many things to do and places to explore in and around the park, such as the unique Spirit Sands with its enchanting shifting sand dunes or the numerous beautiful wooded trails that follow the Assiniboine River and its riverbank forests. Enjoy the wildlife, birdwatching, hiking, canoeing and so much more!
While the Spruce Woods Star Party is a private RASC members’ function, we welcome astronomers of all stripes and experience levels. Join up with the RASC today to become eligible to attend; all we ask is that you follow the star party rules and guidelines to ensure that everyone has a fun and productive weekend. Just include enough food, drink, and camping supplies with your astronomical equipment to celebrate the whole weekend and you’ll be good to go. The observing field is unpowered, but we have a nearby cabin where you can recharge your batteries, and nearby Glenboro can help you out if your supplies run low.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with the SWSP committee via our Contact Page.
About Spruce Woods Provincial Park
The star party takes place in the beautiful Spruce Woods Provincial Park, two hours west of the City of Winnipeg. Its distance from the province’s largest source of light pollution gives us an excellent window to the stars while still having so much to do and see when we’re not looking up at the sky. The park’s focus on maintaining its astronomical viability may lead to it becoming Manitoba’s first Dark Sky Preserve.
On top of the many outdoor recreational activities the park has to offer, from hiking and swimming to horseback riding, the principal visitor attraction in the park is the Spirit Sands nature conservation area. On top of being rich in First Nations cultural heritage, it is an important habitat for a number of species at risk, such as the Northern Prairie Skink and the Hognose Snake. The Spirit Sands are diminishing in size as the dunes become stabilized and covered with vegetation; there is evidence that the entire Spruce Woods area has been completely vegetated and completely barren several times over the past 15,000 years, so make sure to check it out before it happens again!
There’s plenty of room to set up your campsite in the observing area, but if you’re looking for a more private and full-service campsite where you can use white light, the Kiche Manitou campground offers a range of sites, services, and activities. Group camping is also available. If you’re planning on hiking the backcountry, you can also choose from five campsites or the Jackfish Lake Cabin, all along the Epinette Creek trail system.
Running our annual star party is no small feat, and it would not be possible without the hard work of its organizing committee, and everyone that volunteers their time to make the Spruce Woods Star Party a memorable event year after year. Our sincerest thanks goes to:
Star Party Committee