Mill of Kintail Star Party

What is it?

A “star party” doesn’t involve evening gowns, cocktails or celebrities. It’s a bunch of people looking at the wonders of the night sky through telescopes — and it’s free.

Some people call it “star gazing”. We call it “observing” or “a star party” when we do it as a group. And it’s lots of fun.

Where: The Mill of Kintail

The Mill of Kintail is a conservation area (park) near Almonte. We observe from a field just inside the front gate. Outside the front gate is a parking lot and a building. The building has clean washrooms and is *warm*.

How to get there

Map Link: Google Map

Driving Directions from Ottawa

  • Follow 417 west
  • Exit onto Highway 49, west towards town of Almonte
  • Stay on highway 49 as you drive through Almonte
  • turn right (north) onto Highway 29 (follow sign to Mill of Kintail)
  • turn left (east) onto Clayton Road (follow sign to Mill of Kintail)
  • turn right (north) onto concession 8, (follow sign to Mill of Kintail)
  • turn right into the Mill’s entrance, by the Mill of Kintail Sign. Park in the lot. Walk through the gates. Telescopes will be setup along the drive or on the grassy (or snowy) field to the right of the drive.

GPS Instructions

If you have a GPS in your vehicle the site is at latitude 45°14’38.73″N, longitude 76°15’30.73″W. Mill of Kintail is in the “attractions” list of some GPS units, as is the “R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum”, which is located on the grounds.


The star party will be cancelled if it’s cloudy. So we cannot set a firm date until day or so before the planned date. So please check the Main Page, our email list, or our Twitter Feed for an GO/NO-GO announcment.

If we call a go, the typical timing (autumn – spring) will be:

  • 19:30 Oafs arrive. Open gate an start setting up telescopes.
  • 20:30 Oafs stop making the excuse “i’m still setting up” and public observing of Jupiter, Neptune and brighter star-clusters begins.
  • 21:30 It becomes dark enough to observe galaxies, star-forming nebulae, supernova remnants, and partially exploded stars. You know, the cool stuff.
  • 23:59 Many people are gone or leaving.
  • 01:00 Last frozen OAF leaves and locks up.

What to Bring?

OAFs will bring telescopes. The park’s gatehouse will have water, washrooms and a space to let people warm up. Vistors should:

  • Above all else, dress warmly. Dress for 10 to 15 degrees colder than the forecast. You can always take your sweater off if you are wearing too much; but if you come with too little, you’ll probably be going home early from the cold.
  • Dress for dampness. The grass will get quite wet from dew during the night, and the air is damp. You’ll want shoes and clothing that will repel the damp and keep you comfortable.
  • In the spring and summer, dress for mosquitos. We find that Thermacell type mosquito repellants work well. If you are using spray-on repellants, apply them at least 30ft from telescopes, eyepeices and and other expensive optical surfaces.
  • Consider bringing a pair of binoculars, whatever kind you may have. Many objects you’ll see though OAFs’ telescope can be found in your own binoculars, and we’ll be glad to help you. Discovering that the binoculars you have had for years will show you galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters is a special surprise and thrill.
    • If your binoculars came with any kind of accessory to allow you to mount them on a tripod, bring that, and bring your tripod. Binoculars on a tripod are an excellent telescope for a dark-sky site.
  • If you bring your own telescope, feel free to show up at 19:30. Some oafs may be able to help you set up.


2 thoughts on “Mill of Kintail Star Party”

  1. Hi,

    Would you please let me know if the observatory at Mill of Kintail is still in use? If so, is it open to the public and when?

    We are amateur photographers and night sky observers and would like to join in. Would you please let us know how we can get in touch to make arrangements to use the observatory and/or join in?

    Thanks so kindly,


    1. Yes it is. It’s called the “Fred Lossing Observatory”, and is owned and operated by the Ottawa centre of the Royal Astronomical Society. Get in touch with them at for details. – Richard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.