Bayside Astronomy

For the past 12 years, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Bruce Peninsula has involved time travel, the brightest stars, and ancient myths and best of all it is totally free!

We are talking about Bayside Astronomy which happens every Friday and Saturday from Canada Day to Labour Day at the Lions Head Marina at sunset. Over 2,600 people from all over the world attend this event every summer. The event gets underway around sunset with a group of volunteers led by local retired teachers Doug and Paula Cunningham and our student Program Manager, setting up their own telescopes by the POD (Peninsula Observation Deck).


At dusk, just before the first stars appear in the night sky, the public gathers for a seat on the POD for a 20-30 minute star talk. The star talk is different every week, with topics like “The Birth, Life and Death of Stars” and “The SETI Project, Are we Alone in the Milky Way?” As part of the talk, the constellations, planets and the brightest stars are pointed out, which helps the public understand what they will be seeing through the telescopes. Joining the telescopes owned by our dozen or so volunteers is the huge 20” StarMaster Dobsonian telescope purchased from Order of Canada recipient and Editor of SkyNews Magazine Terence Dickinson. This incredible addition to the Bayside Astronomy program, shown in the picture below at its unveiling, is operated on the POD, to provide stunning views of the night sky!

Due to its location, surrounded by water on three sides and far away from large cities which can provide light pollution, the Northern Bruce Peninsula is blessed with some of the darkest skies in Canada. Bruce Peninsula National Park is even recognized as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Northern Bruce is a Dark Sky Community.

Dark skies are important because many biological process are triggered by light, and excess artificial light at night interferes with these processes. The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, which is a co-sponsor of Bayside, works to safeguard our dark skies for not only astronomy, but to protect wildlife, particularly nocturnal animals, and to save energy. Everyone can pitch in to help by using dark sky friendly lighting that lights the ground not the sky, closing the drapes at night, only turning on lights only when required, and converting to energy efficient LED lighting. You will notice even the street lights at the Lion’s Head marina have been converted to dark sky friendly lighting.

In Toronto only about 30 of the brightest stars can be seen, while here we can see over 5000 stars! So when the stars come out at Bayside, it’s amazing.

Attendees gather in small groups around 10-15 different scopes, where the volunteers show them the planets, double stars, globular clusters of over 300,000 stars, and galaxies along with interesting facts, stories and ancient myths about the constellations. Many of these objects are thousands of light years away, which means when you look at them in the sky or through a telescope, the light left that object thousands of years ago, so you are actually travelling back in time!

Lineups are relatively short around the scopes and everyone gets as much time as they like to look through the scopes and ask questions. Volunteers share their time and passion for the skies freely and often don’t shut down until the last person has left sometimes past midnight.

If you have never seen Saturn’s rings, Jupiter and its moons, the lunar landing sites, the Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules or the Andromeda Galaxy (over 2.5 million light years away), prepare to be amazed!

If you are not able to make Lion’s Head or you are spending the entire week in the beautiful Northern Bruce Peninsula (perhaps camping), Bayside also goes on the road to Miller’s Family Camp on Mondays, Summer House Park on Wednesdays and Singing Sands in Bruce National Park on Sundays. Enjoy local restaurants for dinner, perhaps HarbourSide Music on Friday nights in Lion’s Head before Bayside, and cozy up in a local B&B after Bayside before tackling the Bruce Trail the next day!

Check out our Facebook page at, review us on TripAdvisor BAYSIDE ASTRONOMY - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) (, and most importantly, come out to Bayside Astronomy this summer and be Star Struck!