Spruce Woods Provincial Park is a good place to visit when it’s dark outside.

The Manitoba government is celebrating the province’s first-ever dark-sky preserve designation from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) at Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton announced today.

“We are excited to see beautiful Spruce Woods Provincial Park become the first provincial site to be designated as a dark-sky preserve, which recognizes its strong commitment to preserving nighttime ecosystems and educating visitors about light pollution,” said Wharton. “Our government is happy to celebrate this milestone, and I would like to thank all of the dedicated volunteers who helped secure this designation, which will enhance opportunities for park visitors to experience a natural dark-sky environment.”

Long known for having some of the highest-quality night-sky readings in southern Manitoba, Spruce Woods Provincial Park features pristine dark-sky environments that attract amateur stargazers and professional astronomers alike.

“From the first mention of Spruce Woods Provincial Park working towards a dark-sky preserve designation, Friends of Spruce Woods Inc. has supported Manitoba Parks with this project,” said Brian Mitchell, president of Friends of Spruce Woods Inc. “A big thank-you to all, including the dedicated group at the RASC. Friends of Spruce Woods Inc. is thrilled for its part in the preservation of the night sky in Spruce Woods and the first designation of a dark-sky preserve in Manitoba.”

The minister noted the designation follows years of dedicated work by Manitoba Parks staff, members of the RASC and volunteers with the Friends of Spruce Woods. The designation will be presented on Sept. 4 at a ceremony during the RASC’s annual Spruce Woods Star Party. Manitobans are invited to attend the ceremony starting at 7 p.m. at the park visitor centre, followed by moon observation at 8 p.m. and a laser-guided star tour at 9 p.m.

Dark-sky preserves are unique sites that have excellent night-sky readings, host astronomy programs and reduce light pollution to the greatest extent possible by adhering to established guidelines.