Turn Your Eyes to the Skies

Yukoners – and others – who enjoy celestial pursuits may want to follow the stars to Kluane’s “Northern Nights” Dark Sky Festival at Kathleen Lake this weekend.

This is the second time around for this event, which is jointly sponsored by Parks Canada and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

Viktor Zsohar is a director of the Yukon Astronomical Society, also known as the RASC: Yukon Centre. He is the group’s vice-president of observatory and observation operations.

“The stargazing event last year was truly fantastic,” Zsohar said. “The sky views of star clusters and galaxies were majestic, and we really enjoyed participating with this curious and knowledgeable audience.”

Another enthusiastic participant in last year’s inaugural festival was Sophie Littée, an Alaskan who took part in a painting workshop, among other things.

“The whole event was great, SO fun. I look at my painting with fond memories of my time at the festival at Kathleen Lake,” Littée wrote in an email from California.

As they did last year, organizers with the Kluane National Park Reserve and the astronomical society are once again offering workshops and opportunities to examine the night skies through camera or telescope lenses, or with the naked eye.

There will also be presentations and workshops facilitated by professional visual artists and astronomers, as well as First Nations storytelling, and even instructions on how to build a bat house. (Bats want to be cozy, too.)

Those with a keen interest in stars, planets and space travel may choose to eavesdrop on a talk via Skype by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

Food will be provided, and there are musical events planned for both evenings.

Many of the weekend’s activities will take place inside the enclosed, heated camp kitchen, but organizers are hoping a repeat of last year’s weather will allow participants to engage in outdoor pursuits in even greater numbers than last year.

If the weather turns nasty, there will be movies to watch inside the shelter.

Workshop space is limited, so even participants planning to camp overnight at the Kathleen Lake campground are encouraged to register ahead of time.

Organizers are promising two evenings of unique, dramatic and educational experiences under the canopy of Kluane’s night sky at the Yukon’s only Dark Sky Festival.

Northern Nights Festival Schedule

Friday September 22

Painting Colourful Nights – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Cost: $40 to cover supplies

Nighttime Photography Workshop – 7:30-10:30 p.m.Cost: $22

Junction Coffeehouse – 8:30-10 p.m. FREE

Stargazing – 10 p.m. FREE

Saturday, September 23

Bat house building workshop – 12:30-4 p.m.Cost: $22 to cover supplies.

Yukon Astronomical Society Presentation – 4:30-6 p.m. FREE

Astronaut Jeremy Hansen via Skype.

Traditional Stories and Campfire Roast – 6-8 p.m. FREE

Nighttime Photography workshop – 7:00-10 p.m.

Jazz Trio Concert – 8:30-10 p.m. FREE

Anne Turner, Gordon Miller & Lisa Preto

Stargazing – 10 p.m.

For further information and to register for workshops:


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