Dorion—Nothing defines the human experience more than being able to gaze up into the nightsky. Whether it be a full moon beaming its bluish hue over the landscape or a constellation of stars pulsating over an open campfire—these celestial objects convey endless possibilities. Not only of galaxies yet to be discovered, but of mankind’s place in the universe. And most of all, to that cosmic magic that speaks to our souls and inspires us to pursue our dreams.
Sadly though, this innate quest to understand the unknown is denied to millions and millions of people. According to the New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness, 80 percent of the human race can’t get a good view of the stars and planets because of light pollution. There is an online interactive map provided by Nasa Blue Marble Navigator that shows just how much artificial light is being emitted from the Earth’s surface. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is dedicated to the reduction of unnecessary lights and they also provide a list of Dark-Sky Designations.
There are many locations along Lake Superior’s shore where people can still observe the universe’s astronomical wonders. One such place is the Wolf River Campgrounds, located 75 kilometers east of Thunder Bay. In operation since 1937, the original Trans-Canada Highway runs through the well-maintained grounds. It has 50 sites, a comfort station with showers, dump station, playground and an unsupervised beach. There are also two great spots at Wolf River Campgrounds for sky viewing. Owners Patricia and Stephen Behun took possession of the business 14 years ago and their heartfelt hospitality and reasonable rates have made the campgrounds a favorite for people from all around the world.
Stephen is also an amateur astronomer. His interest in nighttime observing began as a youth in Montreal. When he and his wife lived in Hinton, Alberta, he purchased his first telescope. Stephen also uses binoculars because they offer a wider field of view. Over the years, Stephen has seen the orange-red Betelgeuse star that forms part of the shoulder in the Orion the Hunter constellation and the nebula that makes the sword. There are approximately 400 blue-white stars in the Pleiades cluster and he has located between 50 to 60 of them. When it comes to planets, Stephen has observed Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and four of Jupiter’s many moons. The Earth’s moon, another must-view, is best seen when not full, because the shadows are more distinct.
There are also plenty of astronomical treats to enjoy with the naked eye, like the red, green, and white arcing lights of the Aurora Borealis, the misty Milky Way and the meteorites that frequently fill the sky with their quick flashes of descending light.
For more information on Wolf River Campgrounds, visit www.wolfriverpark.ca.