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Into the Arctic Skies: Aurora and Astronomy in Churchill

Program Number: 7931RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/7/2013 - 3/12/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Price starting at: $1,195.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Science & Nature
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

The clear skies of Churchill’s winter will thrill and challenge any sky watcher. With over 300 nights of auroral activity, Churchill is the best spot on the planet to view the northern lights. Our instructor, “Starman,” will lead you through the fascinating world of comets, deep sky objects, meteors and northern lights. Visit the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg for an in-depth study of the region’s natural history and an introduction to the vast subarctic region of Northern Manitoba.




Highlights

• Discover the world of comets, deep sky objects, meteors and northern lights in the planet’s top viewing spot.
• Spend an afternoon dog sledding in the boreal forest.
• Take an exhilarating ride by snowmobile into the boreal forest and experience snowshoeing.



Activity Particulars

Activities may include dog sledding, snowmobiling and walking, dependent on weather.




Date Specific Information

3-7-2013

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2 nights; flight to Churchill, Manitoba, 5 nights; flight to Winnipeg, 1 night, departure.




Winnipeg

Established on the site of an aboriginal trading center on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, the capital of Manitoba is an international hub for finance, manufacturing, culture and tourism. Arts-minded residents and visitors can patronize the provincial theater, opera and ballet, and the city hosts annual festivals of music and the arts.



Accommodations
Winnipeg: Hotel near The Forks and near airport (final night). Churchill: Active research facility in the heart of polar bear country. Bunk-bed dormitories at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, two to four guests per room, shared washrooms with showers. Scenic views from all rooms.
Meals and Lodgings
   Churchill Northern Studies Centre
  Churchill, MB 5 nights
 Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Type: Field Station
  Description: The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an independent, non-profit facility dedicated to supporting research and education initiatives in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The facility is situated at the junction of three distinct ecosystems and provides a unique insight into the life in the tundra, boreal forest and marine environments. The unique landscape and wildlife of Churchill offers visitors an unrivaled opportunity to examine the changes in flora and fauna that accompany each season. Winter skies are clear, dark and unpolluted, making Churchill an ideal site to view aurora. Our summers bring a huge number of migratory birds, thousands of visiting beluga whales and a colourful selection of blooming wildflowers. Wildlife such as arctic hares, arctic foxes, red foxes and caribou can frequent the area in the summer and early fall. As the season draws to a close, polar bears begin to migrate to the coast where they wait for Hudson Bay to freeze over. This congregation of polar bears is why Churchill can claim to be the polar bear capital of the world! Please be aware that polar bears are not in the area in the months from early December until late June as they are out on the polar ice hunting seals.
  Contact info: #1 Launch Road
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0 Canada
phone: 204-675-2307
web: www.churchillscience.ca
  Room amenities: Each room accommodates 2 - 4 four guests in two bunk beds (upper and lower), with individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves and individual reading lamps. The dorm is often filled to capacity with the maximum of 4 guests in each room; there are no single rooms available. Rooms are gender specific, although husbands and wives can sometimes be accommodated in one room during slow periods. Separate female and male washrooms with private showers. Guests with mobility concerns may request a lower bunk.
  Facility amenities: Clean, modern facilities in a new state-of-the-art green building. Scenic views from all rooms. The CNSC has a small gift shop carrying batteries, stamps, film, books and various souvenirs including postcards, photographs, t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Wireless Internet is available throughout the building. Several computer stations are available for those guests not travelling with a computer or mobile device. There are 3 telephones for outgoing calls-two of these accept credit cards. Phone cards are not sold at the facility so you may wish to bring a phone cards with you. There are limited laundry facilities and the cost is $6.00 CDN per load which includes the washer, dryer, detergent and anti-static dryer sheets. The laundry facility is only open from 5-10 PM. The CNSC has a fitness room and a heated observation dome that is accessible by a spiral staircase with standard steps and extra handrails. This can be used for sky watching or polar bear viewing (polar bears are most commonly seen during the months of October and November). A 2nd floor outdoor deck for safely watching wildlife and northern lights. SPECIAL MEALS NOTE: Gluten free meals (and most special dietary needs) can be accommodated with advance notice. Please make sure to note any dietary needs on the required forms.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Separate Mens and Womens washrooms with private showers. Toiletries and soap are not provided. All linens and towels are provided.
  Additional nights prior:  Guests are encouraged to spend extra nights at local hotels/B&B's Contact the Churchill Northern Studies Centre at cnsc@churchillscience.ca or call (204) 675-2307 for an accommodations guide to Churchill.
  Check in time: 9:00 AM
  Additional nights after:  Guests are encouraged to spend extra nights at local hotels/B&B's Contact the Churchill Northern Studies Centre at cnsc@churchillscience.ca or call (204) 675-2307 for an accommodations guide to Churchill.
  Check out time: 9:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Independent arrivals to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Participants will be picked up at the train station or airport as pre-arranged. You will be staying at Churchill Northern Studies Centre that night.
  End of Program:
Independent departures from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Drop off in town, at the train station or the airport as pre-arranged. You will be staying at Churchill Northern Studies Centre the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. A passport is required for all travel to and from Canada (by air, land and sea) as of June 1, 2009. Passport requirements are subject to change. Visit www.travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html for up-to-date info. A signed waiver is required from participants.
  Parking availability:
Churchill is a remote community only accessible by air or by rail. IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION: Please see Driving Instructions.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Churchill, MB
  Nearest city or town:  Churchill
  Nearest highway: IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION: Please see Driving Instructions.
  Nearest airport:  IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION: Please see Driving Instructions.
  From End of Program
  Location: Churchill, MB
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Winnipeg to Churchill

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Via Rail
phone: 888-842-7245
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Contact Via Rail for pricing. www.viarail.com.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

36 - 38 hours (2 overnights on train) 

   

There are no roads into Churchill, it is accessible by air and rail. You will need to find transportation to Winnipeg and then travel to Churchill. Leave plenty of time between connections in Winnipeg. You may want to spend the night in Winnipeg to avoid complications due to a missed connection. Travel disruption and cancellation insurance is recommended. Book at least 1 week in advance for a discount, there may also be special rates for seniors. Private shuttle (free) from train station.

 

Winnipeg to Churchill

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Calm Air
phone: 800-839-2256
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Contact airline - www.calmair.com
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Approximately a 3 hour flight 

   

There are no roads into Churchill, it is accessible by air and rail. You will need to find transportation to Winnipeg, Manitoba and from there travel to Churchill. Calm Air is the major air carrier to Churchill, with daily scheduled flights north from Winnipeg. For the best fare, book at least two weeks in advance and inquire about senior and student discounts. Private shuttle (free) from Churchill airport.

 
Driving Directions
  1. IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION There are no roads into Churchill and although the town is accessible by air and rail it is sometimes difficult making travel arrangements. You will need to find transportation to the city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba, Canada and from there travel to Churchill.
  Air Travel AIR TRAVEL Please follow (or exceed) all recommended check-in times. It is especially important for international (including US) participants to leave enough time in Winnipeg to clear customs in the event of a flight delay. You may wish to arrive in Winnipeg a day early and enjoy the sights. WINNIPEG Westjet offers daily service to Winnipeg from locations throughout Canada. www.westjet.com or (888) 937-8538 Air Canada offers daily service to Winnipeg from locations throughout Canada and the world. www.aircanada.com or (800) 247-2262 Delta Air Lines offers daily service to Winnipeg from Minneapolis. www.delta.com or (800) 221-1212 United Air Lines offers daily service to Winnipeg from Chicago and Denver. www.united.com or (800) 538-2929 CHURCHILL Calm Air International is the major air carrier to Churchill, with several daily non-stop flights from Winnipeg. For the best fare, book at least two weeks in advance of your trip and inquire about senior and student discounts. Calm Air allows two checked bags with a combined weight of not more than 70 lbs, including valet and larger carry-on items. Individual pieces must weigh no more than 50 lbs each and measure less than 62 inches (L + W + H). If you are checking more than one bag, request a priority tag for the bag that absolutely MUST arrive with you. For more detailed information on baggage allowances, contact Calm Air directly at www.calmair.com or toll free (800) 839-2256
  Train Travel to Churchill TRAIN TRAVEL VIA RAIL travels to Churchill three times a week, but only departs from Winnipeg twice a week. A direct trip from Winnipeg to Churchill takes at least 43 hours, barring unforeseen delays. For best fare, book at least 3 days in advance of your trip and inquire about senior discounts. VIA Rail permits two large (max weight 70 pounds) checked bags and two carry-on items. Depending on track conditions, trains can be significantly delayed en-route. Call VIA Rail directly for current information and plan accordingly. We recommend an overnight stay in Winnipeg on your northbound journey and as you head back home through Winnipeg to avoid missed connections. If you are traveling in the sleeper car, all of your linens, towels, face clothes, shampoo, soap, blankets and pillows are provided. It is a good idea to take just a small carry-on, as there is limited room inside the sleeping areas. For those traveling in coach, we recommend that you bring earplugs, eye covers, small pillow, a blanket and some entertainment (cards, books, music). Bottled water and healthy snacks are a good idea . The food on the train is not expensive, but the variety is limited. VIA offers both take out service, which you can eat in your seat, or a dining car service. Greyhound provides bus service from Winnipeg to Thompson - call(204) 949-7777 for information. Private vehicles can be securely stored at the Thompson City Hall (204) 677-7910 parking lot with 24 hour security (donation required for local charity) or McCready Park Campground (204) 778-8810 for a nominal fee per day (transfer to and from train station included). Allow approximately eight hours to complete the paved highway between Winnipeg and Thompson. Via Rail offers a “Preference Card” that enables you to collect points. This is well worth it as the trip to Churchill racks up a lot of points. You can use points on a future VIA Rail trip. Contact www.viarail.com or (888) 842-7245 for more information.
  Travel to Thompson (by car/bus)/Train to Churchil Another option is to travel to Thompson, Manitoba by personal vehicle or by the bus line and take the overnight train ride to Churchill. Greyhound Bus lines provide bus service from Winnipeg to Thompson and can be contacted at (204) 949-7777 for prices and scheduling. For those driving to Thompson, private vehicles can be securely stored at the Thompson City Hall (204) 677-7910 parking lot with 24 hour security (donation required for local charity) or McCready Park Campground (204) 778-8810 for a nominal fee per day (transportation to and from train station is included). McCready Campground is also the only option for large vehicles and RVs. Allow approximately eight hours to complete the paved highway between Winnipeg and Thompson.
Elevation Note: Located along the shores of historic Hudson Bay near sea level.

Equipment Requirements: Cold weather clothing suitable for -25F to -40F (see the packing list) and binoculars. For those guests from warm climates who do not wish to purchase an expensive outdoor gear not likely to be worn again, the centre rents complete head-to-toe outfits for $50 CDN per day which includes parka, snow pants and warm boots. You can rent the parka, pants and boots separately according to your needs. Please contact the CNSC to reserve by calling (204) 675-2307 or email cnsc@churchillscience.ca
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Safety Briefing and Orientation/Welcome Dinner
(Thursday, March 7)
   
 Arrive To: Safety Briefing and Orientation, Dinner and Welcome by Staff and Introductory lecture.
 Dinner: Dinner at Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
   
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Guided Walk - Churchill Research (Rocket) Range/Natural History/Sky Watching
(Friday, March 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC).
 Morning: Short outdoor guided walk of former Churchill Research (Rocket) Range. This will give you a better idea of how well your clothing holds up to the wind and cold temperatures
 Lunch: Lunch at CNSC
 Afternoon: Natural history videos.
 Dinner: Dinner at CNSC.
 Evening: Evening lecture and sky watching.
   
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Snow Ecology/Snowmobile Trip/Snowshoeing
(Saturday, March 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at CNSC.
 Morning: A presentation will examine snow ecology.
 Lunch: Lunch at the CNSC.
 Afternoon: Embark on an exhilarating snowmobile excursion into the boreal forest - snow sampling demonstration, snowshoeing and photography.
 Dinner: Dinner at CNSC.
 Evening: Evening lecture and sky watching.
   
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Film Screening/Dogsledding/Sky Watching
(Sunday, March 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at CNSC.
 Morning: Screening of locally-filmed major motion picture "Snow Walker" or Cannes Film Festival winner "Fast Runner".
 Lunch: Lunch at CNSC.
 Afternoon: Introduction to Dog Sledding in the boreal forest with local musher. Rustic toilet facilities and warming hut provided.
 Dinner: Dinner at CNSC.
 Evening: Evening lecture and sky watching.
   
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Parks Canada Interpretive Centre/Eskimo Museum/Sky Watching
(Monday, March 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at CNSC.
 Morning: Guided interpretive walk of Churchill area.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own to experience local cuisine or if you prefer we will supply you with a bag lunch in the morning.
 Afternoon: Field trips to Parks Canada Interpretive Centre and World-famous Eskimo Museum. Visit other local attractions.
 Dinner: Farewell social with wine sampling and featuring local wild game and other unique local cuisine. An Aboriginal Cultural Presentation with special guests will be part of our final evening.
 Evening: Final lecture and Sky watching.
   
Accommodations: Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Departures
(Tuesday, March 12)
   
 Depart From: Morning plane departures and evening train departures.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at CNSC.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Exploring the Night Sky : The Equinox Astronomy Guide for Beginners


Author: Terence Dickinson, Illustrations by John Bianchi


Description: “ A new guide to the stars aimed at novice stargazers anxious to expand their astronomical repertoires beyond the Big Dipper….offers a series of realistic night-sky illustrations to locate the major constellations.” ISBN: 0-920656-66-8



The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore and Legend


Author: John MacDonald


Description: “ A tour of the arctic universe awaits readers…from a variety of perspectives” ISBN:0-888854-427-8.



Dot to Dot in the Sky: Stories of the Planets


Author: Joan Marie Galat, Illustrations by Lorna Bennett


Description: “Journey through this fun guide to the planets and discover the exciting myths created to explain the mysteries of the ancient world.” Children’s book, but great for beginners too! . ISBN: 1-55285-392-6.





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