August 11-13, 2023
Location: Bright Angel Park at rural and dark Cowichan Station, in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on southern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Gates will open at 2pm on Friday. Camp on the field and setup your telescope to enjoy observing the night sky from a dark site.
Cost: Free of charge for drop-ins! Suggested donation of $20/Adult observers who camp overnight – one night or two. Kids camp free.
Everyone who is present is entitled to tickets for door prizes, can attend planned activities and have access to the observing field. Prizes include telescopes!
Star Party Poster – please stick it on your fridge and share with friends! PDF & PNG
Don’t want to camp? No problem…it’s at most a 20-minute drive from most areas of the Cowichan Valley, and only a 45-minute drive from Victoria. Live out of town? Stay in one of the many guest houses, hotels and motels in the Cowichan Valley, however reserve early, since accommodation fills up during the summer.
Staying after dark? Please bring a red light with you – do not use white lights, including cellphone flashes!
Schedule of Events
Friday Aug 11th
- 2:00 pm – Gates open
- 7:30 pm – Telescope tour
- 8:00 pm – Welcome and door prizes
- 8:30 pm – Speaker TBA
- 10:00 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please
Saturday Aug 12th
- Solar viewing – all day on the field
- Nature Walk through the park trails – afternoon
- 7:30 pm – Telescope tour
- 8:00 pm – Door prizes
- 8:30 pm – Speaker TBA
- 9:30 pm – Public viewing of the night sky with telescopes on the field
- 10:30 pm until dawn: observing! No white lights during this time, please
- The Perseid Meteor Shower will be at its peak overnight!
Sunday Aug 13th
- Cleanup – everyone please pitch-in & help
- 12:00 pm – departures by Noon please!
The Island Star Party is hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre, with support from the Cowichan Valley Starfinders.
Directions to the star party
Head west off the Trans-Canada Highway on Koksilah Road and turn right onto Tigwell Road. The park is at the end of the road. If you are driving a big vehicle such as a motorhome, we suggest you turn west off the Trans-Canada Highway at Allenby Road, then turn left onto Koksilah Road and left onto Tigwell Road. This slightly longer route will avoid a low-clearance rail bridge on the more direct route.
Lat 48° 44.0246′ N, Long 123° 40.5144’W
What to expect
The night sky at this location is very dark, but there is a light dome to the north from the City of Duncan. Views in the other directions and overhead are excellent, and at this time of year Sagittarius is visible in the early part of the evening to the southwest.
Please feel free to camp on the observing field with your tent, trailer or motorhome and setup your telescope and other astronomy gear. There is some power on the field for astronomy equipment and to charge small devices, but no RV plug-ins please! Also, please do NOT park on the field with your vehicle if you plan to leave after dark! In this case, move your vehicle off the field after setting up, and park outside the access road on Tigwell Road with your headlights facing away from the field. The same parking request applies to visitors for the evening – park outside the gate and walk into the field.
- Washrooms are a short walk from the observing field with sinks, toilets and urinals, but no showers. Red lights will mark the way at night along the forest trail.
- Playground and workout gym on the observing field
- Park gates are open from 7am – 9pm daily. Make sure your vehicle is outside the gates before 9PM if you plan to leave later on!
- Explore the trails through the forest and along the Koksilah River – a nice way to spend the day. Good swimming too, although the river water is cold!
- Pets are allowed in the park and at the star party, but must be under effective control of their owners at all times. If your dog knocks over an expensive telescope, you just bought it!
- Drinking alcohol or smoking is not allowed in public areas of the park. You may consume alcohol at your campsite (private area), but please don’t wander around with your drink, or become intoxicated or high.
- Dry summer conditions demand that no open flame be used. Please cook using a camp stove or use the Picnic Shelter by the lower parking lot. No campfires or open flame please!
- Mobile phone service is very weak at this rural location. There is no Wi-fi, so don’t expect good (or any) connectivity.
- Although the observing field is flat, it is bumpy, so people with mobility issues may find some areas are not easy to navigate. The washrooms are accessible by using the trail through the forest and navigating a modest slope.
Photo galleries of past Island Star Parties
- 2013 – event & night sky
- 2012 – event & night sky
- 2011 – night sky
- 2010 – event & night sky
- 2009 – night sky
- Tim Horton’s fast food dine-in and drive-thru and a Co-op gas station and convenience store are both nearby at Bench Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.
- Big box stores, grocery stores and malls are a short drive away in Duncan, Cobble Hill and Mill Bay.
- Pizza and other fast food can be ordered from and/or picked up at numerous local establishments.
- Espresso drinks and other fancy beverages available in Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Cobble Hill and Mill Bay.
- Nearby mall at the intersection of Cowichan Bay Rd & Trans-Canada Highway – Pizzeria Prima Strada, Drumroaster Coffee, Country Grocer, Dragon Yuen.
- Whippletree Junction – a variety of eclectic stores that are worth a visit, located nearby on the highway.
- The fascinating Kinsol Trestle is a short drive from the park, where the Trans-Canada Trail crosses the Koksilah River. An easy walk from the parking lot – level and accessible.
- Wineries in the area are too numerous to mention individually! Look here: Wine Festival Specials
- BC Forest Discovery Centre – steam trains, historic forestry equipment and history – fun for all ages
- Cowichan Bay village – fish boats, oceanfront restaurants and shops, whale watching, sea lions
Island Star Party t-shirt
Fruit of the Loom quality cotton t-shirt, printed ink design. Men’s sizes in black: S, M, L, XL, 2XL – limited supply, so pre-order to ensure you get one! Pick up at the Star Party or local pickup in Victoria. $20 each – Joe Carr – Email