*When wandering in Ontario’s Highlands, please be aware of any local travel restrictions and guidelines. Vaccine passports accompanied by photo identification are currently required to enter some businesses.
Fall is the perfect time for astronomy lovers to explore the night skies no matter where you are, but especially in Ontario’s Highlands, known for some of the darkest skies in the province. In fall, the cold air holds less moisture than warm air so the night sky is amazingly clear; plus, this is the time of year when some amazing astronomical events take place each year.
This year we have some epic stargazing conditions to take in. Bundle up with a thermos and settle back to drink in the millions of stars overhead. Read on to discover when and where to stargaze in Ontario’s Highlands this October.
Where to Stargaze
The best part about stargazing (besides that it’s completely FREE!) is that it can be done almost anywhere, in a farmer’s field, at your local park or even in your own backyard. That said, there are some locations that are obviously better than others, and usually the more remote the better, as there will be less light pollution obscuring the night sky.
In Ontario’s Highlands, our night skies are clear and bright! In fact, our region is home to two spots with some of the darkest skies in Ontario, North Frontenac and Lennox & Addington. Here, you can observe the night skies at the North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve or the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area.
Other parts of Ontario’s Highlands are also dedicated to preserving the night sky, and many have by-laws in place to keep light pollution to a minimum. The point is, you can go almost anywhere in our region and be assured of a phenomenally starry night (weather permitting).
Here’s a list of celestial events taking place this fall:
When: Peaks Oct. 7 or 8
Have you ever heard of Draco the Dragon? Neither had we, but the name alone will inspire you to try and catch this meteor shower this fall. The Draconid Meteor Shower passes through the skies in Ontario each October and at its peak you will have a chance to see approximately 10 meteors per hour streaking through the night sky.
Planetary Alignment (Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon)
When: Oct. 14
In October two of the largest planets in our solar system will align with our moon for a spectacular show for astronomers. This ‘super trio’ will be easy to see in the southern sky on Oct. 14, with or without a telescope.
When: Oct. 20
The full moon in fall seems more brilliant, larger, and rounder, and closer to the earth. The Hunter’s Moon takes place in October and its name comes from the Anglo Saxons, referring to the time of the year when hunters are out hunting or preserving game. Every three years the Harvest Moon is in October but this year’s Harvest Moon was on Sept. 20 leaving the Hunter’s Moon all on its own on Oct. 20.
When: Peaks Oct. 20 or 21
Watch the night skies for up to 20 meteors that will streak across the sky every hour during this meteor shower. Fun fact: the Orionids are named after Orion because the meteors appear to originate from the same area of the sky as that constellation.
When: Nov. 4
No, a super moon does not refer to a moon with a red cape fluttering behind it, it’s a celestial phenomena that takes place when the full moon or new moon occurs during the moon’s closest approach to Earth. Because the orbit of the moon is an elliptical there are times when the moon is closer to the earth, which, when combined with the full moon or new moon gives astronomers some spectacular views of the moon surface.