15 Places to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario

15 Places to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario

In today’s post, I will be covering 15 different places where you can watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario. I’ve made sure to include locations in northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, and Eastern Ontario so that everyone can share in the meteor shower love.

You’ll find locations near Thunder Bay, Windsor, Toronto, and Ottawa. This post really covers it all! Read on to find your nearest place to best watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.


Want to read more about our experience shooting night photography around the world? Here are some posts that might interest you!


Best Places to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario – Contents


What is the Perseid Meteor Shower? Where does it come from?

Perseid Meteor Shower taken at Haleakala's Visitor Centre in Maui, Hawaii
Perseid Meteor Shower took at Haleakala’s Visitor Centre in Maui, Hawaii

The Perseids meteor shower is an annual meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere. On the best days, you’ll often see anywhere between 50-100 meteors PER HOUR 🤯.

Beyond the cool factor of seeing hundreds of streaking meteors across the night sky, the reason behind why we can see this shower is actually super cool too!

Meteor showers happen because the Earth collides with leftover comet particles and broken asteroids. As these pieces collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at 210,000 KM (130,000 miles) per hour, they disintegrate, creating the fiery and colourful streaks we love to watch in the sky.

The Perseids shower occurs every year because the Earth’s orbit collides with a comet’s orbital path. Luckily for us, when we intersect the path, we run into a lot of particles that broke off from the main comet itself. This is also known as the comet’s debris trail.

So really, we have to thank the comet known as 109P/Swift-Tuttle and its debris for our yearly meteor shower viewing!

Comet Swift-Tuttle has a very eccentric – oblong – orbit that takes this comet outside the orbit of Pluto when farthest from the sun, and inside the Earth’s orbit when closest to the sun. It orbits the sun in a period of about 133 years. Every time this comet passes through the inner solar system, the sun warms and softens up the ices in the comet, causing it to release fresh cometary material into its orbital stream.

Everything you need to know about Perseid Meteor Shower – EarthSky

In this case, I think the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is pretty fitting here!

When to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseids begin around mid-July and end in the penultimate week of August (July 14 – August 24). Its peak activity meteor count (100 meteors/hour) normally occurs between August 11, 12, and 13 of each year.

The Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though at times it is possible to view meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m. (Source: Nasa Solar System Exploration)

So even though it starts as early as 10 PM why is it best viewed between midnight and dawn? Meteors come from a single point in the sky, also known as the radiant point. From midnight to dawn the Earth’s rotation will be turning into the meteor stream, or towards the radiant point in space – basically, you’ll see more meteors overhead at this time!

Best places to view the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario

Dark sky preserves

No matter where you are in the world, the absolute best locations to watch any meteor shower or night sky is a very dark sky. Many countries including Canada, have protected zones to preserve natural darkness. These areas not only allow astronomers the best conditions for their research, but these preserves also benefit the health of nocturnal wildlife within parks.

Dark Sky Preserves are protected areas that make a special commitment to protect and preserve the night, reducing or eliminating light pollution in all forms. In Canada, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) decides which protected areas can be known as Dark Sky Preserves, Urban Star Parks, and Nocturnal Preserves.

The RASC guidelines indicate that dark sky preserves must follow three criteria:

  1. control of local lighting
  2. outreach programs aimed at the general public and neighbouring municipalities
  3. good nighttime lighting practices

The first 8 locations in today’s post are the full list of locations in Ontario that are designated by the RASC as Dark Sky Preserves. You can be confident knowing that the below locations will give you great dark skies to watch the Perseid Meteor Showers in Ontario.

1. Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve

Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve is Canada’s oldest designated sky preserve. The preserve is located about 30 minutes away from Gravenhurst, Ontario. The main dark sky viewing area is on the smooth granite outcrop on Southwood Road behind the Ministry sign.

This location has surged in popularity in recent years so it is strongly encouraged to arrive before dusk to ensure you can park at the preserve and secure a good stargazing location.

Related:  Review of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
What you need to know about Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve
Address: Southwood Rd, Gravenhurst, ON P0C 1M0
Closest City: Gravenhurst
Parking Fee: Free
Reservation Fee: Free
Dog-Friendly?: Yes on leash.
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Website: Torrance Barrens
Clear Sky Forecast: Torrance Barrens Clear Sky Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
None – please practice Leave No Trace when visiting
Key Features: Main viewing area features a large, flat granite rock platform to stargaze. The area is Crown Land so informal camping is possible, however, due to recent overcrowding and popularity, this is not encouraged as these camps can obstruct the dark sky viewing.

2. Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre

Fish eye view of the Night Sky taken at Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre - PC: Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre FB page
Fisheye view of the Night Sky taken at Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre – PC: Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre Facebook Page

Located at the base of the Bruce Penisula, the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre is a Dark Sky Preserve and is home to the E.S. Fox Observatory, which is operated in partnership with the Bluewater Astronomical Society.

Please note: for most nights, the education centre and observatory access are restricted to:

On occasion, however, Bluewater Astronomical Society does offer free events where the public can join – including onsite stargazing.

There are several methods to determine when the next free event will occur including:

To find out when the next free stargazing event is happening, please contact them directly for updates. You can also check their events page and Facebook page for other upcoming events that may interest you.

What you need to know about Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre
Address: 3092 Bruce Road 13, Wiarton, ON N0H 2T0
Closest City: Oliphant
Parking Fee: Unknown*
Reservation Fee: $40/year family membership
Dog-Friendly?: Unknown*
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes
Website: Bluewater Astronomy
Clear Sky Forecast: Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
Unknown*
Key Features: The facility hosts a large 28-inch (71 cm) Webster Dobsonian reflector, the largest publicly accessible roll-off observatory in Ontario. Observing at the observatory is open on public nights only, not on weekdays or evenings during the school year.

*despite my research I was unable to find conclusive information on these items. If anyone has any info please do send it my way so I can update this table! 

3. Bruce Penisula National Park

The Bruce Penisula National Park is already as a beautiful park with its stunning natural assets like its crystal clear waters. But as the National Park is also a designated Dark Sky Preserve, it also offers some of Ontario’s darkest skies for optimal stargazing and meteor shower watching.

There are several locations at the park for you to enjoy the night sky including:

What you need to know about Bruce Peninsula National Park Dark Sky Preserve
Peninsula Observation Deck

Address:
1 Bruin St, Lion’s Head, ON N0H 1W0
Closest City: Tobermory
Parking Fee: Free
Reservation Fee: None
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: No – but many campground options nearby
Website: Bayside Astronomy
Clear Sky Forecast: Bruce Peninsula National Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
Benches
Key Features: Dedicated observation deck facing east. Free astronomy program held weekly every Friday and Saturday by Bayside Astronomy starting from Canada Day to Labour Day*
Summer House Lake

Address:
197 Miller Lake Shore Rd, Miller Lake, ON N0H 1Z0
Closest City: Tobermory
Parking Fee: Free
Reservation Fee: None
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes however must book directly with Miller Family Camp
Website: Bayside Astronomy
Clear Sky Forecast: Bruce Peninsula National Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
Unknown**
Key Features: Free astronomy program held weekly every Wednesday by Bayside Astronomy starting from Canada Day to Labour Day* Head to Miller Family Camp. Follow the wings signs for Summer House Park.

**despite my research I was unable to find conclusive information on these items. If anyone has any info please do send it my way so I can update this table! 

*All free Bayside Astronomy programs have been cancelled for 2021 however the locations should still be open for casual observers to enjoy

4. Point Pelee National Park

While you can definitely stay overnight to enjoy the night sky at any point at this dark sky preserve, Point Pelee National Park makes it a point to keep their parks open until midnight on designated nights for stargazing lovers.

If you arrive on one of the designated nights, Point Pelee National Park will also offer a seasonal star chart to help you identify any celestial objects as well.

During the peak Perseid Meteor Shower, the park is open all night long for viewers to enjoy the night sky. For 2021, this means the park will be open from 6:00 AM August 12 to 10:00 PM August 13

What you need to know about Point Pelee National Park’s Dark Sky Preserve
Address: 1118 Point Pelee Dr, Leamington, ON N8H 3V4
Closest City: Leamington
Parking / Entry Fee: $7.90 per adult / $16.00 per vehicle up to 7 individuals
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes – must reserve campground in advance
Website: Point Pelee National Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Point Pelee National Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities: 
Visitor Centre and washrooms available
Key Features: oTENTik tents – permanent shelters that are a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent, on a raised wooden floor.

5. North Frontenac Township

Adjacent to the helipad at 5816 Road 506, and only four kilometres southwest of the nearest town of Plevna, the North Frontenac Township observation pad offers stargazers a concrete pad to set up their telescopes to enjoy the night sky.

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If you’re interested in staying overnight around the area, there are backcountry campgrounds available nearby.

What you need to know about North Frontenac Township Dark Sky Preserve
Address: North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve, 5816 Road 506, North Frontenac, ON K0H
Closest City: North Frontenac
Parking / Entry Fee: Free
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: No
Website: Township of North Frontenac
Clear Sky Forecast: North Frontenac Township Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
Washrooms and electrical outlets available
Key Features: Concrete observation pad

6. Lake Superior Provincial Park

Night Sky taken at Agawa Bay Campground's beach at Lake Superior Provincial park overlooking lake. PC: Paula Trus, follow on Instagram @thenorthviewmediagroup
Taken at Agawa Bay Campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park PC: Paula Trus, follow on Instagram @thenorthviewmediagroup

Did you know that Lake Superior Provincial Park is home to one of the four darkest sections along the entire Trans Canada Highway? It goes without saying then that this provincial park offers some of the darkest skies that Southern Canada has to offer.

The most easily accessible stargazing locations in this provincial park include:

  • Agawa Bay Campground’s beach near the Visitor Centre
  • Rabbit Blanket Lake campground
What you need to know about Lake Superior Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve
Addresses: Visitor Centre near Agawa Bay Campground
Closest City: Wawa
Car Camping Fee at Agawa Bay: $65 for one tent + car camping
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes – must reserve campground in advance
Website: Lake Superior Provincial Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Lake Superior Provincial Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities: 
Visitor Centre and washrooms available
Key Features: one of the darkest skies in Southern Canada

7. Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney Observatory in foreground with the night sky as the background. Taken at Killarney Provincial Park. PC: Ontario Parks
Killarney Observatory is in the foreground with the night sky as the background. Taken at Killarney Provincial Park. PC: Ontario Parks

Killarney Provincial Park, already known as the crown jewel of the Provincial Park system, is another great dark sky preserve to visit when you want to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario. Not only does the provincial park offer great campground views of the open sky, but this provincial park also includes two ramp-friendly observatory decks in its park.

Formal interpretive programs are offered throughout the summer months. There are also informal drop-in sessions open to the public thanks to the efforts of passionate volunteers and staff of the park.

If that wasn’t amazing enough, Killarney Provincial Park also offers a self-use program where you can rent their telescopes on a first-come-first-served basis. These are only available on their designated self-use nights. Please note that you will be required to deposit $500 to rent the telescopes and undergo a training session the morning before. If you’d like more information, check out Ontario Parks’ blog for more information.

Check their Facebook page for more on Killarney Park’s upcoming August and September 2021 space programs.

What you need to know about Killarney Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve
Addresses: Killarney Provincial Park Visitor Centre
Closest City: Wawa
Vehicle Permit: $18
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes – must reserve campground in advance
Website: Killarney Provincial Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Lake Superior Provincial Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities: 
Visitor Centre and washrooms available
Key Features: Two telescopes and wheelchair accessible viewing platform. Observatory open for the public to use during the summer months. Day Use guests and Overnight campers welcome.

8. Manitoulin Eco Park (formerly Gordon’s Park)

Silhouette of a man observing the sky with a telescope. Taken at Manitoulin Eco Park | Gordon's Park. PC: Gordon's Park
Silhouette of a man observing the sky with a telescope. Taken at Manitoulin Eco Park | Gordon’s Park. PC: Gordon’s Park

Manitoulin Eco Park, also formerly known as Gordon’s Park is Canada’s first privately-owned Dark Sky Reserve recognized by the RASC. While you can enjoy the night sky from one of its stargazing campgrounds, the eco-park also offers a communal open field for an unobstructed 360-degree sky viewing experience.

Beyond just enjoying the night sky at your campground, the eco-park also offers various astronomy programs including the Perseid Meteor Shower Nights and Perseid Night Hikes. Note: you do not have to book an overnight stay at Manitoulin Eco Park to enjoy these events.

What you need to know about Manitoulin Eco Park’s Dark Sky Preserve
Address: Manitoulin Eco Park | Gordon’s, 18777 ON-6, Tehkummah, ON P0P 2C0
Closest City: Tehkummah
Parking / Entry Fee:
Night Passes ($10 per person for Dark Sky Preserve without spending the night)
(optional) $50+HST Perseid Meteor Shower / Hike Tour addition
Dog-Friendly?: Y – $5 fee per dog add on for accommodations
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes – $40-$150 depending on overnight accommodations
Website: Manitoulin Eco-Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Manitoulin Eco-Park | Gordon’s Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
WiFi and charging station located onsite (away from stargazing area). Washrooms, picnic shelters, and communal fire pit (day use only). Garbage and recycling are also available onsite)
Key Features: Eco-Park = off-the-grid experience. Dedicated open lawn for communal stargazing. Overnight experiences include: private wilderness campsites, tipi-tenting, bunkies, hammock camping

Other recommended locations

If all reservations are booked or the dark sky preserves are too far away from where you live, I have also included a list of other less dark, but recommended locations that offer great night skies to enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario.

9. Quetico Provincial Park (International Dark-Sky Assocation recognized)

Northern Lights taken from Quetico Provincial Park PC: Rob Stimpson for Ontario Parks
Northern Lights at Quetico Provincial Park
Photographer: Rob Stimpson submitted to Ontario Parks

While not recognized by the RASC, the Quetico Provincial Park is Canada’s first provincial park to be recognized by its partner, the International Dark-Sky Association in February 2021. This park is perfect for those located in Northern Ontario near Thunder Bay or folks visiting from our neighbouring province of Manitoba to visit.

What you need to know about Quetico Provincial Park’s Dark Sky Preserve
Address: ON-11, Atikokan, ON P0T 1C0
Closest City:Atikokan
Parking / Entry Fee: N/A included in an overnight stay
Reservation Fee: $11.00 
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: Yes – $30-$60 depending on overnight accommodations.
Website: Quetico Provincial Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Forecast based on Atikokan, 43 KM west of the provincial park
Amenities / Facilities:
Laundromat, comfort stations, dog beaches, and showers available on campgrounds.Key Features: Quetico Provincial Park is a world-famous destination for backcountry canoeing with over 2,000 lakes and 460,000 ha of remote wilderness. Known as a wilderness park, you’ll truly be able to get the most remote and natural stargazing experience at this park. You can capture the majestic night sky with the rugged beauty of towering rock cliffs, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine and spruce forests, and picturesque rivers and lakes as your backdrop. 

10. Lennox and Addington Dark Sky View Area

15 Places to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario In today's post I will be covering 15 different places where you can watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario. I've made sure to include locations in northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, and Eastern Ontario so that everyone can share in the love. You'll find locations near Thunder Bay, Windsor, Toronto, and Ottawa. This post really covers it all! Read on to find your nearest place to best watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Lennox and Addington Dark Sky View Area PC: Dark Sky Viewing Area Facebook Page

Lennox and Addington Dark Sky View Area offer a similar night sky darkness equivalent to 250 kilometres north of Toronto (i.e. Killbear Provincial Park). The major advantage to this location is that it is only 40 KM north of the nearest Highway 401 exit, making this viewing area much more easily accessible than most northern viewing areas.

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The site includes a concrete pad for enthusiasts to set up lawn chairs and telescopes. This site borders the Sheffield Conservation Area and is one of the few locations near Toronto where reservations are not required to enjoy stargazing.

What you need to know about Lennox and Addington’s Dark Sky Preserve
Address: 7980 Lennox and Addington County Rd 41, Erinsville, ON K0K 2A0
Closest City: Erinsville
Parking / Entry Fee: Free
Reservation Fee: None
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Website: Naturally L & A
Clear Sky Forecast: Lennox and Addington Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
None. Please note for 2021 portable washrooms have been removed from the area.Key Features: Concrete viewing platform

11. Purple Woods Conservation Area

While there is no designated stargazing area, Purple Woods Conservation Area has been listed on Earth Sky as a recommended location for stargazing thanks to its open meadow and relative darkness thanks to the vast farmlands located nearby. At just 75 KM northeast of Toronto, this is one of the closer options for big-city dwellers to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.

What you need to know about Purple Woods Conservation Area
Address: 38 Coates Rd E, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4
Closest City: Oshawa
Parking / Entry Fee: Free
Reservation Fee: 
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Website: Central Lake Conservation Authority – Purple Woods Conservation Area
Clear Sky Forecast: Long Sault Conservation Area – 18 KM East of Purple Woods Conservation Area
Amenities / Facilities:
None. Please note for 2021 washrooms and picnic sites are closed in the area
Key Features: Access to the Oak Ridges Trail. Accessible Discovery Walk (900 m) trails. Spring and fall migratory songbirds, summer Monarch butterflies, and beautiful locations for watching the fall foliage.

12. Binbrook Conservation Area

15 Places to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario In today's post I will be covering 15 different places where you can watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario. I've made sure to include locations in northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, and Eastern Ontario so that everyone can share in the love. You'll find locations near Thunder Bay, Windsor, Toronto, and Ottawa. This post really covers it all! Read on to find your nearest place to best watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.
John Gauvreau took this photo of the Orion Nebula at the Binbrook Conservation Area in 2020. JOHN GAUVREAU PHOTO Source: The Spec

The Hamilton Amateur Astronomers hosts a free annual Perseid Meteor Shower event at the Binbrook Conservation Area. This event attracts up to 1,000+ observers each year. So naturally, it goes without saying that this is a great location that isn’t too far north for enthusiasts to watch the meteor shower.

Please note, however: Due to COVID-safety measures this annual event has been cancelled for 2021. For future years, be sure to check out their events page. for updates on future annual events.

What you need to know about Binbrook Conservation Area
Address: 5050 Harrison Rd, Binbrook, ON L0R 1C0
Closest City: Binbrook
Parking / Entry Fee: $8 per adult, $6 senior/student, $24 max car. $60 full day/holiday
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Website: Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Binbrook Conservation Area
Clear Sky Forecast: HAA Dark Sky Site
Amenities / Facilities:
Washrooms. Please note picnic areas are not available in 2021
Key Features: Binbrook includes a swimming beach, children’s splash pad, picnic facilities, nature trails, observation platforms and a play area

13. Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Ontario Parks often hosts one of its 5-7 annual summer stargazing parties here at Charleston Lake Provincial. Like most other provincial parks, you will need to stay at one of its overnight campgrounds to enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower.

If interested, here is a list of other provincial parks that Ontario Parks has held their annual summer stargazing parties at if you’d like to consider other promising stargazing provincial parks:

  • Grundy Lake Provincial Park
  • René Brunelle Provincial Park
  • Restoule Provincial Park
  • Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
  • Port Burwell Provincial Park
  • Emily Provincial Park
  • Halfway Lake Provincial Park
  • Kettle Lakes Provincial Park
What you need to know about Charleston Lake Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve
Address: 148 Woodvale Road, Lansdowne, ON K0E 1L0
Closest City: Lansdowne
Parking / Entry Fee:
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Website: Charleston Lake Provincial Park
Clear Sky Forecast: Charleston Lake Provincial Park Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
Comfort stations, picnic shelters, dog beaches, laundromats, showers available on campgroundsKey Features: Part of Ontario Park’s annual “Astronomy in the Parks” program and is the favourite site for their Perseid Meteor Shower program

14. Irvine Lake Airstrip

Silhouette of a Bus in the foreground with the night sky as the background. Taken at Irvine Lake Airstrip PC: We Got Schooled
Silhouette of a Bus in the foreground with the night sky as the background. Taken at Irvine Lake Airstrip PC: We Got Schooled

This abandoned airstrip located near Bon Echo Provincial Park is the unofficial observing site for Ottawa Astronomy Friends. Even outside of the Perseid Meteor Shower, it is not uncommon for regional star parties to be regularly held at this airstrip.

It isn’t uncommon for road trippers to camp on this airstrip to watch the Northern Lights with other fellow unofficial campers here. If you’re interested, I actually stumbled upon this great article by We Got Schooled that shares their experience camping in a school bus at this particular airstrip! I really loved reading this article and it makes me want to seriously consider adding this location to a potential Ottawa road trip in the future!

What you need to know about Irvine Lake Airstrip Dark Sky Preserve
Address: Irvine Lake Airstrip, Addington Highlands, ON
Closest City: Denbigh
Parking / Entry Fee: Free
Dog-Friendly?: Y
Overnight Stay Accommodations Available?: N
Clear Sky Forecast: Lake Irvine Airstrip Forecast
Amenities / Facilities:
NoneKey Features: Large flat airstrip to set up telescopes and lawn chairs

15. Port Union

If you’re really looking for somewhere to stargaze casually and you’re absolutely stuck within the Greater Toronto Area, the Port Union neighbourhood could be your best option. Port Union offers less light pollution and unobstructed views of the night sky compared to most locations in and around Toronto. However, due to its proximity to city lights, you’ll definitely see less of the night sky than any of the other recommended locations.

What you need to know about Port Union for stargazing
Address: Port Union, Ontario
Clear Sky Forecast: Bay Ridges Observatory (5 KM North East of Port Union)
Key Features: Note- this location is about a Bortle Class 7 in the area

Map of recommended places to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario

Here is a map of all the recommended places to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario. I’ve split the locations up based on the following categories:

  1. Blue – Dark Sky Preserve Locations
  2. Orange – Other Recommended Locations
  3. Purple – *bonus* I didn’t cover these in detail but this includes other provincial parks that Ontario Parks have hosted stargazing parties at between 2017 – 2019

Tips to find your own location to watch Perseid Meteor Shower in Ontario

If the suggested places are a bit too far away from where you live, here are some tips on how to find the next best place to watch the meteor shower near you:

1. Make sure you find a dark, wide, open sky

Okay – this one might seem obvious to everyone, but just because it’s nighttime, it doesn’t mean your night sky is dark! Unless you’re living on a remote island, above the cloud covers on a volcano crater, like Haleakala, chances are artificial light will mask how many stars and meteors you’ll be able to see.

Did you know there’s actually a ranking system to rate night skies that can help you determine just how dark your night sky can be? It’s called the Bortle Scale and it describes 9 classes of the night sky from Class 1: Excellent Dark-Sky Site, all the way to Class 9: Inner-City Sky.

Bortle Scale with sky examples
PC: Skyglow project

Naturally, to achieve a darker sky, you’d want to avoid as many city lights as possible. So if possible search for publicly accessible large open fields as far away from city lights as possible. Based on the Bortle scale description, your best bet to enjoying the Perseid Meteor Sky is anywhere from Class 1 – Class 4 if possible.

EarthSky.org created a great map that provides a world map of the best places to stargaze. While I have listed the various suggested locations above, there are hundreds of locations around the world for you to explore!

On a side note, I am a bit disappointed that Haleakala didn’t make it to the list when I scrolled over to see Hawaii’s listing. But considering what I saw, I don’t doubt that it will eventually be added to the list!

2. Arrive earlier in the evening and give yourself ample time to watch

You’ll want to arrive early if you’re heading to a popular dark sky location to watch the meteor showers. Not only will you likely need to reserve your spot in advance, and you’ll also need to give your eyes at least 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Stay longer than you think you should to give yourself the best chances to see the most meteors in the night.

3. It’s okay to go before or after the peak dates if the sky forecast isn’t great

Before you head out to your meteor-viewing location, make sure to check that sky forecast in the location you want to go. Even if that’s peak meteor activity, it’s not going to do anyone much good if it’s 100% cloud cover at your location. Remember, the Perseid Meteor Shower runs from July 14 and will continue all the way until August 24th. There’s are so many dates to choose from that if a certain date doesn’t work for you, you’ll still have ample chances to try again.

The best way to check the cloud cover at night is to visit the Clear Dark Sky before heading out. Yes, the website may look dated, but the data is not! This will likely save you from driving hours on the road only to be disappointed with a cloudy sky! bonus is that you can view a list of all available locations and check out each location’s estimated Bortle Scale darkness level as well.

What to pack when watching a meteor shower

Here are some items that I’ve found particularly useful while star gazing outside in the middle of the night.

  • insect repellent
  • outdoor blanket
  • jacket and pants
  • weather resistant seating – e.g. lawn chair, yoga mat, or a tarp – you’ll defintely want to be sure to bring something to keep your butt away from any damp or cold evening ground!
  • snacks – if you aren’t used to stay up at night, and you’re anything like me, you may find yourself getting hungry while waiting for the shower – pack a few granola bars or snacks just in case
  • hot drink in a thermos
  • headlamp (plus extra batteries just in case)
  • red cellophane – this is important as you want to reduce as much artificial lighting as possible. However, sometimes that isn’t possible, but red lighting is the best to keep as much of your night vision intact. By bringing red cellophane and putting it over your lights or screens, you’ll be able to adjust back to the night sky in no time
  • binoculars (optional)
  • camera (optional)
  • remote camera trigger (optional)
  • tripod (optional)

Camera settings for night sky photographer beginners

I want to start by prefacing that Angelo and I are *not* night sky photographer experts and while we have to try and shoot the night sky on occasion, we are still very much beginners. As such the tips we’ve found below are recommendations that were helpful with shooting our own photos. These tips should be taken as starting grounds for new beginners to the night sky looking to get their first few shots. If you’re looking for more in-depth information, I do encourage you to search up more videos and tutorials online 🙂

DSLR or Mirrorless

  1. Do shoot in RAW
  2. Start with a basic starting exposure and adjust to find the right exposure needed
    • Example starting settings for capturing sharp stars and meteors: manual mode, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 4000, white balance 4000 Kelvin (adjusting ISO and shutter speed accordingly)
  3. Turn off autofocus and focus on a bright star or set the focus to infinity if you’re looking for a clear image of the night sky (note: your foreground, e.g. mountains, trees, etc. will be blurred out when focusing on infinity, so if you are looking for a focused foreground with the night sky, you will need to take two separate shots and stitch them together post-processing)
    • Diana Robinson from Nikon’s blog suggests “I usually take a long exposure of about 5 minutes at ISO 2000, f/2.8, 4000°K with long exposure noise reduction turned on so that I can include a nicely exposed foreground blended in with my Milky Way or night sky.”

Camera Phone

I know, I know, taking night photography is best done with a dedicated camera. However, if you just happen to be stopping somewhere on the road, or you’re like me and you only use your phone for everything, it’s still possible to shoot the night sky! Sure, the quality might not be the greatest, but you’ll still be able to come out with some pretty satisfactory results!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. A tripod is a must to keep your camera and image stable
  2. Avoid using zoom if you can – the low light settings diminishes the quality of the photo on your phone already and added zoom will further diminish it
  3. Use an app to simulate long shutter speed if it is not built into your camera (examples include: Slow Shutter Cam, Average Camera Pro, Camera FV-5, or Night Camera)
  4. Make sure flash and HDR are off
  5. Within the camera app, shift to manual focus
  6. Set the shutter speed to 8-10 seconds
  7. Set the ISO levels to 400-800
  8. Choose a portion of the sky with the moon out of the frameto avoid light leaks when setting up your camera and tripod
  9. Tap on the area of the frame you want accentuated
  10. Take the photo

Sources

I really could not have created this consolidated list without referring to many various resources and other lists. Here are some of the articles and lists that have helped me create this that you may enjoy reading as well:

Do you regularly watch the meteor shower? Will you be watching it this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Maria is the founder of SYDE Road, a blog about adventure and often-times dog-friendly traveling. She loves researching and planning for trips and is the 'project manager' for many of the small group adventures documented on this blog. She believes that while it is always best to go into a trip with a plan, the best planned trips are always the ones that have time built-in to explore and get a bit lost. Her itineraries are detailed with safety hints and tips, but are also peppered with unique travel stories and experiences that are the result of free time, getting lost, or stepping off the main trails. She aims to inspire others and give people the confidence to travel the world and get a bit sidetracked!

8 comments

  1. Nicole Andrews says:

    I sadly don’t live in Ontario but this was still a very helpful post for me. I love watching meteor showers and am a self-proclaimed amateur astronomer. The background on the Perseid meteor showers was very educational. Thanks!

    • Maria says:

      I’m so glad that it was still helpful for you even though you don’t live in Ontario! Thank you for giving this a read! I hope that you were able to watch the shower wherever you live!

    • Maria says:

      Hope you’ll be able to in the UK! The Perseid Meteor Shower typically lasts for another 10 days after the peak so if you still have some time – you can try checking your night forecasts in your location using this tool: https://clearoutside.com/forecast/55.38/-3.44 I’ve set it to London to give you a good starting point but it should help you determine any good star gazing nights in the upcoming days in your area as well!

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