Urban Night Sky Place
1440 Brebeuf Street
Sherbrooke, Québec J1H 3G2
Protégeons l’intégrité nocturne (Facebook)
Parc du Mont-Bellevue (PMB) is located in the heart of the city of Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada. It is the largest park in the city and is jointly owned by the Ville de Sherbrooke and Université de Sherbrooke. The park’s resources are managed in partnership with the Regroupement du parc du Mont-Bellevue, a non-profit organization that promotes conservation education and awareness and works closely with the park’s stakeholders to maintain the integrity of resources and park safety. Part of the site serves as Université de Sherbrooke’s main campus, which is open to the public year-round. Despite its urban setting, the PMB is unique in that it is also designated as a Natural Reserve to preserve its ecological heritage. Mostly forested while also containing wetland and riparian ecosystems, the park is home to 400 plant species and over 100 wildlife species, a dozen of which are endangered. Pedestrian trails make a great spot for walking, running, and discovering the ecosystem of the forest whereas bike owners enjoy bike trails all year long.
The PMB is situated within the larger Mont-Mégantic International Dark Sky Reserve, certified in 2007. This Urban Night Sky Place certification is the result of the collaboration between the Reserve team and other partners including the light pollution group Cégep de Sherbrooke to reduce light pollution in the park and around the city. Together, they have undertaken several lighting improvement projects, such as the installation of dimmers to reduce the intensity of lighting from the iconic Mont-Bellevue Cross, and an ongoing project to reduce light pollution through the use of PC-Amber LED lamps. They are also working with businesses to improve lighting in major commercial areas of the city.
In addition to lighting projects, the PMB and its partners have developed a robust night sky quality monitoring program utilizing a network of photometers, sky quality meters, and digital cameras designed to produce detailed maps and track the evolution of night sky brightness in real-time. The data gathered from the network helps researchers understand how environmental conditions can impact night sky quality and will be vital to tracking changes in light pollution over time and space. Continuing public programming and outreach will focus on student education and the launch of the Starry Night Oasis project to establish the PMB as a “nocturnal integrity area” designed to “reconnect the citizens of Sherbrooke to the beauty of a dark night sky and allow them to observe the milky way from an urban area.”
Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for viewing the night sky at Parc du Mont-Bellevue, (45.3777, -71.9151). Don’t forget to plan your trip during the new moon and astronomical twilight to enhance the viewing experience!