Dark Skies and Starry Views (Ottawa and beyond)

A great time to check out stars is in the autumn when sunset starts arriving much earlier but the evenings are not too cold.

Sunset times in September (for Ottawa) start at around 7:40 pm and get earlier throughout the month.  By the start of October twilight starts at 6:40 and continues to drop (to almost 6 pm) before the daylight savings time switch in November.


A great website resource to find great places around cities to see more stars is the Dark Sky Finder.

This website shows where the highest concentrations of light pollution for the globe are and you can easily zoom in to any city and see where the bands of darker skies are.  See where the closest bands of green are, or if that is not possible, go for the darkest band of yellow that are accessible in the city suburbs.

If you have access to a car, you'll be able to get further away from the city lights and see more stars. For Ottawa, it's better to go north or west of the city to find less light pollution.  The northern parts of Gatineau Park dip into the first green band.  The closest purple bands are just outside of Renfrew and Calabogie.  Going east, there are no green bands between Ottawa and Montreal - the cities are just too bright.

Ottawa Popscope at National Gallery of Canada (Photo from OP Instagram Site)


For an opportunity to see some of the planets and celestial events, a new organization Popscope offers opportunities to urbanites!  Presently in six cities in North America (Ottawa is the only Canadian city), this initiative wants to see "a telescope for every neighborhood."  Ottawa is lucky enough to be one of those cities and the Ottawa Popscope team has been setting up their equipment in various locations for the past couple of years.  Maybe you saw them at Glowfest this summer or perhaps at the National Gallery of Canada last winter.  They also had an event at Nepean Point (behind the Gallery) to watch the Super Moon Lunar Eclipse in September 2015.  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find out where they will be next!


  1. Nice tips! I've been thinking about doing some astro photography on top of my regular wildlife photography. I've always wondered how to find the darkest areas!

  2. Thanks so much Laura! That's so cool - good luck with that - can't wait to see some photos!

    (Love your blog - so happy to "meet" you!)

    1. Thanks! I love yours too... I'm about to link to one of your articles on my facebook page :)

    2. Thanks so much for sharing Laura!

  3. Thanks Katherine for the lovely reminder to appreciate to night sky. I love that idea, of a telescope for every neighbourhood. I imagine it will take a while to arrive here in my neighbourhood, 65km north of Melbourne, but I'll keep it in mind.

  4. Hi Kate! Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment. Wouldn't it be great? Hope it happens in your area soon!