Experience Views That Are 'Out of This World' in Thunder Bay

 Check out a different kind of nightlife in Northwest Ontario! 

Thunder Bay is home to two observatories and an astronomy club, and the long dark nights of winter are ideal for stargazing, catching a glimpse of a meteor and even, if you’re lucky, a sky filled with unforgettable northern lights.

A time lapse video of the Northern Lights in Thunder Bay by local photographer DayVidZ/Ascension

1. Thunder Bay Observatory

DSC 0194
Image Provided by Randy McAllister

Explore stunning views of the night sky with professional equipment that has the ability to view a billion “stellar objects” ranging from stars to meteors. There is also a 70-seat multiscreen “mini-planetarium” for viewing. Owner Randy McAllister (who keeps records of local UFO sightings) offers night sky photography sessions as well as educational talks and slideshows—upcoming topics include “Space Travel Past and Future,” “The Universe in Motion” and “Astronomy Influencing Man’s History.”

M51-WhirlPoolGalaxy-RandyMcAllister
Image Provided by Randy McAllister

The Thunder Bay Observatory is located at 243 Klages Road in Neebing, just outside of Thunder Bay, and is situated to take advantage of dark skies and little light pollution for prime viewings. Visit their website or call (807)577-3617 for more information.

Flame  and HorseheadNebulas
Image Provided by Randy McAllister

2. David Thompson Astronomical Observatory (DTAO)

FWHP1
Image Provided by Fort William Historical Park

Located at Fort William Historical Park, the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory opened in 2012. View the night sky through a powerful 20-inch telescope, one of the largest for public viewing in central Canada. The adjacent Discovery Centre is home to astronomy software and computers, and video feed and projection systems for observing images, so even if it’s a cloudy night you can still experience a virtual tour.

IMG 9280 anthony scope - 660
Image Provided by Fort William Historical Park 

Related: See the Majesty of the Stars at FWHP

The DTAO offers popular “Star Walks” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings with themes such as “constellation mythology” and “biology and the stars.” Other events include classic sci-fi movie evenings, a lecture series led by expert astronomers, and, in the summer months, the “Astronomy Traveller” package geared towards RVers and tenters who want to stay at the only campground in Ontario equipped with its own observatory.

IMG 9469mar break class 2 - 660
Image Provided by Fort William Historical Park

Historic navigation equipment and a meteorite collection are on display in the Discovery Centre. And the name? David Thompson was a surveyor with the North West Company who used tools like a telescope, sextant and chronometer, as well as his skills in math, astronomy and surveying, to create a massive map of an area of almost 4 million square kilometres. First Nations peoples called him “the stargazer.” Learn more at www.fwhp.ca, or by calling (807) 473-2344

DTAO EXTERIOR EVENING 7689A - 660
Image Provided by Fort William Historical Park

3. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Thunder Bay Centre

OrionNebula
Image Provided by Randy McAllister 

The local chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada meets the second Tuesday of each month to talk about all aspects of astronomy at open-to-the-public meetings at Confederation College, and also occasionally offers public viewing nights, usually at Hillcrest Park, throughout the year. Bring your own telescope or binoculars, or take a look at the sky through one of the many telescopes and binoculars set up by members. 

About Bonnie Schiedel

Bonnie Schiedel is the founder of www.tbaywithkids.ca, which covers fun family-friendly attractions, events and restaurants in Thunder Bay. She enjoys canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing and travel, and you can read more of her award-winning work at www.northstarwriting.ca.

Recommended Articles

Quality Time Overload

Here's everything that's going on for Family Day in Thunder Bay this year.

The 5 Best Sights to See in Thunder Bay

From the legendary Sleeping Giant to Indigenous art galleries these Thunder Bay attractions are not to be missed.

12 Best Places to Stay in Thunder Bay

A boutique courthouse, art-filled hostel, or a luxe waterfront hotel—TBay has accommodations for every taste.

Time to change your clocks—but why?

The Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario Connection to Daylight Savings Time.

Conquer a Giant

This iconic Northwest Ontario landmark rises 1000 ft above the surface of Lake Superior.

Thunder Bay Winter Fun Guide 2024

The complete A to Z list.

A Pancake is Just a Pancake... Or Is It?

The Top 10 Places to get Finn Pancakes in Thunder Bay

Top 5 places to view the Sleeping Giant

Thunder Bay's Most Famous Landmark and the best places to see it

Parks, Trails, Lakes and More

Top 3 Must-Snowshoe spots in Thunder Bay

6 great hiking trails in and around Thunder Bay

Hike the famous Sleeping Giant or the Flett railway tunnel in this Northwest Ontario city.

Treasure Hunting in Thunder Bay

A longtime thrifter's story—and some hot tips!

A Day Tripper's Guide to Nipigon

The most northerly freshwater port in North America boasts a ton of small-town charm.

Omett & Naiomi and the Three Sisters

The Legend of Ouimet Canyon and the Welcome Islands

Homemade eats on Highway 61

A must-stop south of the city

12 Places to Go Walleye Fishing In and Around Thunder Bay

Catch your limit and experience the province's best angling near this Northwest Ontario city.

An Epic Road Trip to Thunder Bay

Two weeks, five stopovers, and one incredible adventure in Northern Ontario

Thunder Bay's Bay & Algoma Neighbourhood

Find Something for Everyone in this Unique Shopping Area

Cruising Northwest Ontario on the 11/17 West Loop

On a solo ride from Thunder Bay to Manitoba

Lac Des Milles Lacs and Black Bay

Ice Fishing Hot Spots near Thunder Bay

Have a Shag at Camp: Learn to Speak "Thunder Bay"

5 terms you must learn before you visit.