Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter Light: Star Party --- March 5, Elk Island National Park

A copy and paste from my email reminders....

Look up, way up: Star Party

March 5, 2011
4-10 pm   
Elk Island National Park

The stars of this festival are... the stars! There is so much to see in space, and just as much to do back on Earth at the Star Party, Saturday March 5 at Elk Island National Park.
Map of Star Party at Elk Island National Park - click here 
The highlight of this event is the Astotin Lake Star Field, where avid astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society share their telescopes and expertise to help you view the solar system, faraway galaxies and interesting space oddities. Elk Island National Park is part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, a special area of night sky conservation that allows for observation of the stars with or without a scope.

Inside the theatre, tents and tipis, the Star Party offers a wealth of intriguing star lore, talks, and presentations by respected scientists, artists, and aboriginal knowledge keepers. This year’s Star Party features local and national guests, including well-known wilderness astronomer and television host Peter McMahon, internationally recognized nightscape photographer Yuichi Takasaka, and artist and educator Kathleen Houston. Closer to home, Star Party hosts local ‘stars’ of sky observation and research, Dr. Warren Finlay, Dr. Erin Hauck-Walton, and Parks Canada sky expert Matt Davis. Traditional knowledge and culture is presented by Betty Lafferty, Walter Quinn, Ben Moses, Sherryl Sewepagaham and special guest and ‘star’ elder, Francis Alexis.

Outdoors, Winter Light provides festival fun for all ages, including the Snowlar System playground activity and an exciting Zipfy sled run. Check out the Welcome Tent for warm fires and free hot chocolate, or visit the Playground Tipi for tea, visiting, dance and music. At 8 pm, everyone is invited to join the Red Lantern Parade, which creates a brilliant spectacle of light through the dark site.

The Golf Club is an easy walk from the Star Field and will be open all day for concession snacks in a relaxing, warm atmosphere.


Special presenters include Dr. Erin Hauck-Walton, a meterorite specialist who will speak about the mysteries of Mars.

Broadcaster Peter McMahon will present a guide to Canada’s growing network of dark sky preserves, with a how-to for going on a “stargazing expedition.”

Yuichi Takasaka will share his expertise as an internationally published nightscape photographer, as well as a presentation of his photos of the Northern Lights.

Parks Canada interpreter Matt Davis searches extra-terrestrial worlds and the more exotic habitats on Earth for terrestrial life in Space Canoe 2: The Search for Extra-terrestrial Life, a family-friendly presentation complete with activities and prizes.

Aboriginal elder Francis Alexis shares his traditional understanding of the stars with Peter McMahon and special guests, in a fascinating cross-cultural exchange of sky observation and knowledge.

Special thanks to mapmaker Hiroo Sawada at Parks Canada.

Getting There  (click here to view a google map)


To get to Elk Island National Park from Edmonton, drive east on the Yellowhead Highway and turn north on Range Road 201A. There will be signs to guide you to the park. Continue driving north through the park gates, and follow the main road to the Astotin Lake turnoff. Look for the giant inflatable beaver!

Winter Light encourages you to carpool. There are also various ride share sites that may be of help.

Winter Light does not organize this activity, and disclaims any responsibility. Please use common sense and caution when meeting up for ride shares.


Shuttles will depart from Kingsway Mall (west side, across from Zellers) starting at 3 pm, continuing at regular 30 to 45 minute intervals until 8:15. Shuttles are free, but seating is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. See Shuttle Information here:

Useful tips

Lights Out:  Help us preserve the beauty of the dark sky preserve and true night sky observation. Please turn off car lights and mask your flashlights. Red light is acceptable, and it’s easy to adapt your headlights and flashlights with red tape, red marker, or red plastic/gel.

Dress Warmly:  This is an outdoor event in an isolated area. Although there are warm shelters, please check forecasts, dress appropriately and be prepared for the weather.

Wildlife Caution:
  Wild animals roam freely in the park. Bison in particular can be dangerous. Do not approach them or attempt to attract their attention. Steer clear, and give them plenty of room.

Updates:  Check for updates on park access, parking and weather conditions at or follow our Twitter feed @WinterLightFest. Due to the popularity of the Star Party there may be a waiting time in your vehicle near the entrance to the event site.

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