The Great Manitou Star Party 2


Dear Stargazers!

We want to begin with a big “thank you” to all those who attended the 2002 Great Manitou Star Party, and to all those who have enjoyed the event over the years. The 6th annual GMSP will take place Wednesday, August 27 through Sunday, August 31, 2003. Please join us for four nights of exceptional stargazing on lovely, laid back Manitoulin Island.

August highlights include a special appearance by the Red Planet. Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in 2000 years on opening night of the Great Manitou Star Party. Don’t miss this extraordinary chance to experience one of the most alluring objects in the night sky. Mars is ideally positioned for viewing all week long. In honour of our “special guest”, we will be organizing a couple of Mars talks. We’re also planning sessions on astrophotography and light pollution/dark-sky preservation.

This year, the Great Manitou Star Party is being organized and presented by the Manitoulin Island Dark Sky Association (MIDSA), a not-for-profit charity dedicated to establishing a National Dark Sky Sanctuary on Manitoulin Island. MIDSA has been hard at work for the past two years winning the support of Townships and First Nations Communities. So far, seven municipal councils and three First Nations band councils have passed resolutions designating their areas as part of the National Dark Sky Sanctuary. Recently, MIDSA and Assiganack Township began installing 10 full-cutoff lighting fixtures along Hwy. 6 near the town of Manitowaning. This is the first step towards full conversion of the municipal lighting systems on the island.

All those who attend the Great Manitou Star Party will be helping to support this fantastic project. We will also be encouraging all of our guests to become MIDSA members. The cost is $15.00 for an individual “Stellar” membership or $30 for a family “Constellation” membership. Members will receive an attractive MIDSA membership certificate, along with a stylish souvenir lapel pin (3 pins for family memberships). Please let us know if you would like to become a member now, and we will make the necessary arrangements.

As many of you already know, Manitoulin Island is a remarkable place for stargazing. There are no significant sources of light or industrial pollution in the vicinity. Location also helps. The island is hundreds of kilometers from major urban centres in southern Ontario and buffered by the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Thanks to these factors the night sky is incredibly dark and transparent with 7+ magnitude naked eye observing.

Along with quality stargazing, Manitoulin Island offers unlimited recreational possibilities. Swim, paddle or fish the crystal clear waters of Lake Huron or the numerous inland lakes; enjoy the rustic beauty of the country side that has hardly changed since pioneer days; hike the spectacular trails of the Niagara escarpment and take in the view from 300 ft. high limestone cliffs; explore scenic back roads by car or bike; experience First Nations culture, art galleries, local museums, summer theatre, restaurants and shopping. If you would like to find out more about the event or the island, please contact MIDSA Communication Director Mark Oldfield by phone, land mail or email (contact info. below).

The motto of the Great Manitou Star Party is “fun, friendship and fabulous observing”. It is a very relaxed event, in keeping with gentle natural surroundings. If you’re looking for a place to recharge your spirit and see the night sky under ideal conditions, this is your star party! The GMSP is family-friendly and open to amateur astronomers at all levels from novice to expert.

We offer guided observing sessions for beginners throughout the week. Once again this year, guests will have access to the exquisite beach and sand dunes at Carter Bay. A primary observing site will be announced as soon as arrangements are in place.

Prices for 2003 have not been finalize, however we are not anticipating significant changes from last year. For the record, last year’s rate (in Canadian dollars) were $25.00 for one night, $45.00 for two night, $60.00 for three nights, $80.00 for four nights. The nightly fee includes registration, camping cost and access to all special events such as guest speakers.

Our website is currently under construction. We hope to have it up and running soon. In the meantime, if you need more information about MIDSA or the Great Manitou Star Party, please contact our Communications Director:

Mark Oldfield
1687 Carol Street
Val Caron, ON P3N 1H1
(705) 897-4518

Clear skies!

P.S. Please enjoy these selections from our Astrophotography section while the site is being updated.