Skip to content

Clark Lake Observatory

Clark Lake Observatory

Clark Lake is a beautiful natural lake located in the province of Quebec, Canada. Tall pine trees and rolling hills insulate the lake from the outside world, and the closest villages of Otter Lake and Ladysmith number only in the dozens of residents. Unlike much of the earth, light pollution has continued to decline over the past few years as better lighting options have been installed slowly by local muncipalities. On the Bortle scale, we’re a low 3, giving naked eye views of the Milky Way, Andromeda, and the odd passing comet.

Most of my astrophotography gear sits out in a Skyshed Pod observatory on my deck overlooking the lake about 50 meters away. Skyshed Pod observatories are unique structures designed specifically for amateur astronomers, made of fiberglass and provide a weather-resistant and secure environment for telescopes. The main advantage of Skyshed Pods is their compact size, in this case about 3 meters square. The fiberglass material also provides excellent insulation, making the interior of the observatory safe from the harsh elements of Canadian winters. The observatories can be easily assembled and disassembled, or moved with the help of a few friends.

Milky Way over the cottage
First photo taken after taking possession of the cottage in August 2018. Canon DSLR, no filter!

Trees remain the biggest obstacle to photography from the site. We are situated in a low part of the terrain, and tall pine trees surrounding the home block much of the view south. I have dreams of adding a second floor to the cottage before I retire from my own local digital marketing agency, and plan to move the observatory up to capture more of the sky. But for now, it gives a great backdrop for Milky Way photos in the summer!

The second obstacle is the proximity to water, which is prone to night time fog. This can make for a very humid environment, making clarity an issue for many nights. Dew heaters work overtime to keep the lenses dry, but unless things are properly covered you’ll often find your equipment soaked with dew if you leave it out overnight. This is where Rubbermaid tubs are worth their weight in gold!

But obstacles aside, when the clouds part and the night is cool and dry magic can happen. I can walk 10 feet outside of home and see the Milky Way with little time for my eyes to adjust the dark. Spend an hour outside in the dark in August and you can make out Andromeda. It’s a magical place, and I’m happy to share it with you through my photos!

Looking east from my end of the lake.

The Observatory

My Clear Sky Report