Canada is home to some remarkable places to explore the night sky. And with a growing list of accessible resources online, deep dives into astronomy and seeing our Universe in a new light has never been easier.
While COVID-19 has restricted in-person gatherings and temporarily closed some viewing decks and observatories across the country, astronomers are going virtual, opening a world of educational resources no matter where you are.
Take the opportunity to explore the world of astronomy equipment, cameras and software and educational facilities. Whether you’re in the market for a new pair of backyard binoculars from a local astronomy store or you’re planning the astrophotography trip of a lifetime, check out our growing list of astronomy resources in Canada.
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Choose your resource
Astronomy clubs and national organizations
Educational resources and planetariums
Observatories and dark-sky preserves
Stores (Telescope and binocular retailers, astronomy cameras, observatory domes)
Astronomy clubs and national organizations
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
The RASC has been bringing amateur and professional astronomers together since 1868, inspiring curiosity and enhancing understanding about the Universe through public outreach, education and support for astronomical research. Today, they boast 30 chapters offering local programming across the country.
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre
The Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre is Canada’s foremost authority on astronomy and astrophysics, operating and maintaining Canada’s national observatories and providing extensive data management and analysis tools through the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre.
Want to connect locally with other astronomy enthusiasts? Explore SkyNews’ list of coast-to-coast astronomy clubs and locate a group near you.
Education and planetariums
ASTROLab (Mont Megantic, Quebec)
Located in the exceptional landscape of Mont-Megantic National Park in Quebec, the ASTROLab is an astronomy activity centre devoted to making science accessible. It includes a high-definition multimedia room, an exhibition room, an observatory and is situated within a dark-sky preserve.
The Ontario Planetarium’s mobile dome is an innovative new way to bring world-class space and science shows to schools, libraries or any “edutaining” event throughout Ontario. Seating 30 adults when inflated, the dome uses modern LCD technology to project moving, photorealistic 3D space and science imagery on its dome.
Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (Montreal, Quebec)
The successor to Montreal’s planetarium now has two dome theatres and an exhibition area focused on space and astronomy, and is part of the larger Space for Life in Montreal — a cluster of museums focusing on nature.
Jasper Planetarium (Jasper, Alberta)
Visit the world’s largest accessible dark sky preserve Jasper National Park! Guided tours take place in our dome theatre, then outside with the largest, most powerful telescopes in the Rockies!
Now on DVD! Can your students recognize the Big Dipper? Unlike textbooks, our pads of easy to use star maps and videotapes bring the sky into the classroom. There’s more for astronomers too.
Additional online resources
“Explore — The Night Sky” | Hubble’s Messier Catalogue
The Hubble telescope has photographed nearly all of the astronomical objects in the Messier catalog. Learn more about the fascinating objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, first documented by astronomer Charles Messier in the 18th century.
Wolfgang Steinicke’s Revised NGC and IC list
Steinicke’s latest revised list of NGC/IC objects includes 13,957 entries (13,226 objects from the original NGC/IC plus 731 additional entries) and nearly 600 photos.
Get the latest comet sightings and read about predictions for comets you may see through a telescope.
A list of the currently observable supernovae, along with information on their location, reference images and their last reported brightness.
The Astronomer’s Telegram
The Astronomer’s Telegram is a website and short-notice publication service with quick posts and updates regarding astronomical observations. There are individual feeds with updates on objects like comets, Solar System objects, supernovae and more.
Adventures.com — Northern Lights Tour (Whitehorse, Yukon)
Come and see the awe-inspiring Northern Lights in Canada on one of our exclusive tours in the Great White North. Multi-day tours in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon are available.
Aurora 360 is a fully immersive astro-tourism experience in the Yukon to learn more about the night sky and the natural world. Aurora 360 also provides activities that highlight the borealis colours through science, culture and nature events.
The Jasper SkyTram (Jasper, Alberta)
Blast off with astronomy experts from The Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience atop the Jasper Skytram. Note: The telescope experience is currently suspended, but check back for updates.
Long Point Eco-Adventures (Turkey Point, southwestern Ontario)
Families can stay on-site at this multi-purpose outdoor adventure spot with stargazing activities — including children-oriented programming on the constellations and planets, as well as interactive private tours in the observatory dome.
Observatories and dark-sky preserves
These are all currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, although many have moved to virtual programming. See more information below.
Grenfell Campus Observatory (Corner Brook, Newfoundland)
Close to Gros Morne National Park Dark Sky Preserve and located on Grenfell Campus of Memorial University, the Observatory was first opened in 2012 and is open to the public for tours.
Burke-Gaffney Observatory (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
The education, outreach and research observatory out of Saint Mary’s University also has an observation deck and robotic telescope and hosts free public open houses and group tours. The observatory is only one of three associated observatories in the world that can be controlled from Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Cell phone text messaging and a dedicated app in a fully automatic way.
Observatoire astronomique du mont Mégantic (Mont Mégantic, Quebec)
The Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) is part of the ASTROLab facilities and houses a 1.6-metre telescope and is the fourth-largest and most efficient observatory in Canada.
David Dunlap Observatory (Richmond Hill, Ontario)
The DDO is the largest telescope in Canada and the observatory provides a variety of family programs, heritage tours and lectures where participants can explore the night sky and learn about the cosmos. Many of the programs are now offered virtually including: Astronomy Speaker Night, Ask an Astronomer, Sunday Stargazing, and Up in the Sky.
Allan I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory (North York, Toronto, Ontario)
Located at York University, the Allan I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory offers private tours, hands-on activities, live demonstrations and viewing through the telescopes when conditions permit — now being offered through Zoom. The Observatory runs live viewings on YouTube every Monday and Wednesday nights.
Killarney Provincial Park Observatory (Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario)
Since 2018, the observatory in Killarney Provincial Park now boasts a research-grade 16″ telescope capable of full computer and smartphone control, with an attached 5″ refractor for outstanding astrophotography.
E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory (The Blue Mountains, Ontario)
Located between the Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley, the site offers very dark skies with comfortable amenities. The house has three bedrooms, additional sleeping facilities, two bathrooms, a full kitchen and internet access.
Dortwood Observatory (Cobourg, Ontario)
The Dortwood Observatory is privately-owned backyard observatory that is open to all ages by appointment only. Safe solar viewing, Moon and planet watching. Also available for off-site viewing.
Glenlea Astronomical Observatory (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The Glenlea Astronomical Observatory is a five-metre dome housing a 400mm Evans’ Telescope, located at the University of Manitoba’s Glenlea Research Station. The observatory has an attached warm control room with internet access and the site is fully equipped with a concrete pad for setting up telescopes.
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (Calgary, Alberta)
The RAO is part of the University of Calgary’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and brings together teaching and research with public education and community engagement.
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (Victoria, British Columbia)
The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) offers capabilities in optical imaging, spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry, and currently operates two research telescopes: the 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope and the 1.2-metre telescope, which features the high resolution McKellar spectrograph.
Parks Canada Dark-Sky Preserves
Parks Canada has 13 designated Dark-Sky Preserves where visitors can learn about the stars, the Moon, galaxies and constellations during special programming and events throughout the year.
Find dark-sky sites and preserves in Canada
Canada’s urban and suburban skies can be quite bright, but there are gorgeous, easily accessible dark skies to be seen all over the country. Click here to find a complete list of Canadian dark-sky sites.
Tools to see the night sky
Telescope and binocular retailers
Markarian Fine Optics (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Owner Harout Markarian and service manager Bryce Tordiffe are proud to offer their customers good, old-fashioned, attentive service in a real store.
Western Canada’s well-stocked supplier of Tele Vue, Celestron, Sky-Watcher, Pentax and Antares equipment. Shop in person with 30+ scopes on display, by phone or with our secure online ordering. Thirty minutes north of Calgary.
Over 35 years of experience selling and servicing telescopes, binoculars and microscopes. Many popular items on our web store by Antares, Baader, Celestron, Kendrick, Kowa, Orion, Meade, Motic, Nikon, Sky-Watcher, Swarovski, Tele Vue, Zeiss and more.
Kendrick Astro Instruments
Anti-fog and cold environment solutions for astronomical, photographic, medical and scientific optics and electronics.
Khan Scope Centre
Canada’s telescope experts. Over 35 years of serving amateur astronomers. Knowledgeable staff, Meade, Celestron, Tele Vue, William Optics, and many others. New and used equipment, service and repairs to most brands of telescopes & binoculars. We ship Canada-Wide. Visit our showroom with over 70 telescopes on display.
Authority in video astronomy since 1985.
Lire La Nature / Astronomie Plus
Atlantic Photo Supply (Dartmouth & Halifax)
Atlantic Photo Supply sells a broad selection of telescopes by Celestron and SkyWatcher and digital cameras by Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Leica.
Ontario Telescope and Accessories
Ontario Telescope and Accessories is an online destination for hobbyists and astronomers that are looking for new equipment. Authorized dealers for iOptron, Lumicon, Explore Scientific, Antares, and other high quality manufacturers.
Durham Skies Astronomy & Birding
Durham Skies is pleased to provide products, services, inspiration and enthusiasm to astronomers and birders of all levels. We believe in honesty, fairness and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.
Diffraction Limited’s products include SBIG astronomical imaging cameras and accessories, MaxIm DL Pro imaging software, MaxPoint telescope pointing software, MaxDome observatory dome control systems, and the Boltwood Cloud Sensor II. All can be ordered through the web store or astronomy retailers.
Personal observatory domes
SkyShed POD (Shallow Lake, Ontario)
Personal observatory domes