Gordon's Park, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada
Posted 09 May 2013 - 08:20 PM
It is very dark, I get similar dark sky readings here as I do when I head down to the middle of nowhere in Utah/Arizona.
There are typically two Star Parties, one in July and a second one in August, but this year there are five events:
May 10 – 13, 2013 – M-10 Star Party (the weather is not looking good for this one, rain, near freezing temperatures and perhaps snow!)
July 5 – 8, 2013 – Stargazing Manitoulin
August 9 – 12, 2013 – Manitoulin Star Party
Aug 12 – 15, 2013 – Perseids Meteor Shower Party
September 6 – 9, 2013 – Dark Side of the Moon Star party
For more information go to http://www.gordonspark.com or http://gordonspark.com/astronomy/
The downside is the travel time for most, but we do manage to draw in people from Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, Timmons, Sault Ste Marie, the UK, The Netherlands, Israel….
The July/August star parties are the major ones with the highest attendance, which is not much at about 50 people, and these events feature daytime presentations which, for the size of the events, are pretty darn good if not better than what other events offer.
We typically see a couple of large scopes attending in July and August, with a 28” F3.6 Truss Newtonian making regular appearances.
While all Star Parties are friendly, I find these ones to more open and friendly. Perhaps is the relaxed atmosphere of Manitoulin Island.
Manitoulin Island has much more to offer, there is a great beach 20 minutes away on Lake Huron, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing on many of the island’s lakes, fishing, and Manitoulin Island is renowned as a biker’s paradise (human and motor powered).
The August event takes place the same week-end as Starfest, those of you planning on attending should consider travelling a little further for darker skies. Its much darker than Starfest, no light domes at all on the island. I am not putting Starfest down, it’s a great event, but I will take darker skies anytime.
To get to Gordon’s Park you have to drive 100km south on Highway 6 from Espanola, or take the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.
Here is a photo taken last year by regular attendee Aaron Top.
Its a 30 second exposure with a fisheye lens. We have some better photo op's planned for this year!
Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:21 PM
So, start a for-profit star party the same weekend as a 35+ year-old non-profit event and only 3 hours away. Nice.
Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:03 PM
I do like Starfest, but like so many other star parties light pollution has encroached on it. Its not the fault of Starfest, its an unfortunate reality of population growth and uncontrolled lighting.
The August event used to precede or follow Starfest, but some complained that they can only attend one event each summer and they want the best possible dark skies, so the event is now on the week-end closest to new moon, and that that will put the August event in conflict with Starfest in most years. Its unfortunate because I (and others) would like to attend both events.
Its not a new event, its been going on for 10+ years (for some reason I think it goes back to '93).
As for it being for-profit, sure it is, and the costs are higher than what I and others would like them to be. But the attendance is low and operational costs of this facility is high, so really not a lot of profit to be made. Starfest with its 700+ attendees has a lot more flexibility in budgeting. Its always an issue when commercial entities become involved in events like this, and I understand that.
Gordon's Park is a commercial park that has gone out of its way to get Dark Sky Approved, so some credit for the investment in time and money is due. The RASC folks from NYAA and Toronto Centre played a big role in getting the recognition.
Malcolm from NYAA is a friend of mine, last year he attended the July event and we discussed the August schedule conflict with Starfest and he 100% agreed with the organizer, that the best dark week-end is when the event should be held. Also its not really a impact to Starfest attendance, Starfest is hours closer to Toronto, has no costly ferry trip, is a lower cost event, and has things to offer that this event can not. Last year there was no impact to Starfest attendance, perhaps just 1 attendee. This year there could be more, but it will not be much.
Plenty of room for both (and more) events, there are at least six other events in Ontario that I know of on the same week-end.
Posted 12 May 2013 - 08:03 PM
I think everyone is best off to state the benefits of their own events and leave negative comparisons out of it.
Posted 13 May 2013 - 06:44 PM
At this moment the MS Chi-Cheemaun Ferry from Tobermory to South Baymouth is not sailing. Lake Huron is 2 feet lower than its historic low and the docks are not capable of safe operation with water levels that low. Modifications are underway, but will only be complete in six weeks. Many of the businesses on the island are 100% dependant on tourism and the loss of the ferry for just a few weeks can make a difference between loss and profit for their year.
Despite what many thought was a cold year, Lake Huron and the other great lakes had significantly less ice coverage over the winter and like a uncovered pot of boiling water, the water tends to evaporate.