Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre, Ontario- Dark-Sky Preserve

Contributors: Wayne Liebau, John Hlynialuk, Lauren Knowles

Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre was designated a Dark-Sky Preserve in 2012, in partnership with the Bluewater Astronomical Society and the Bluewater Education Foundation. The Centre is owned by the Bluewater Education Foundation, and partners with the Bluewater District School Board and the Bluewater Astronomical Society to provide educational programs for students and the general public.

The Centre is located near the base of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, about 9 km west of Hwy. 6 at Wiarton, on Bruce County Road 13. The Bruce Peninsula lies between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, far from large cities. The 320 acre site typically produces sky quality readings between 21.56 and 21.59 mag/arcsec2. The closest town and nearest source of light pollution is Wiarton (9km). Other nearby towns include Sauble Beach (14km) and Owen Sound (40km).

The site features a 28” Webster Dobsonian housed in the E.S. Fox Observatory. The field on the southeast portion of the property and around the Observatory are popular spots for viewing. Although the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre is primarily used for school groups, the Bluewater Astronomical Society hosts public viewing nights at the Observatory about once a month, which include star tours and video astronomy. They also host a number of nights for members of the astronomy club. Nighttime access is only permitted for public events. Please check the schedule on the Bluewater Astronomical Society’s website for upcoming events.

Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre is accessible by car and provides parking areas, but the majority of the site is pedestrian-only. The Observatory is a 200m walk from the Bruce Power Learning Centre and is wheelchair accessible.

The site is part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is nestled between Boat Lake and Spry Lake and is home to forests, meadows, and wetlands. The area is a major migratory route for birds. Bruce Peninsula National Park, another designated Dark-Sky Preserve, lies about 66km north. The Bruce Peninsula is known for its scenery, geology, rare plant species, and countless recreational opportunities.

Accommodations and amenities can be found in nearby towns and campgrounds. There are a handful of campgrounds in the area; Oliphant Family Campground, Trillium Woods Campground, and Spry Lake Campground are all within 4km of the Outdoor Centre. The town of Wiarton offers campgrounds, trailer/RV parks, motels, resorts, cottages, B&Bs, as well as many other services and facilities such as a hospital, police station, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, grocery store, and art galleries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: John Hlynialuk

 

Author: 
Anonymous
Last modified: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - 2:08pm