Opportunities to live and work in Churchill for the science and nature minded are available right now at the Churchill Northern Studies Center! Short term volunteer positions are available for northern lights season during January and February. If you are interested contact them here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The CSNC is at the far reaches of the road heading out through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area and out to the old Churchill rocket range. What a place to spend a couple of months this winter or possibly a longer stint as Assistant Director!
Ever wonder what the perfect conditions are for seeing the magnificent northern lights ? When and where are the best places to see them? Why are various northern lights different colors? Well, you can get all the answers from an expert today right here! Click this Explore.org webcam link to ask “Starman” a question!
Get all your burning northern lights questions answered today live at 5pm eastern time on Explore.org Northern Lights Cam. Canadian aurora borealis lecturer Roger “Starman” Woloshyn will be answering comment questions live on air today through the webcam portal. Just click on the webcam link and submit a question in the comment section and Roger will answer them as they come in.
Roger is an active lecturer at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba. The center, founded in 1976, is a non-profit education and research facility 15 miles east of town at the site of the dormant Churchill Rocket Range. Researchers and educators utilize the facility to explore a diverse range of issues on northern science. Woloshyn also produces and writes presentations for the Manitoba Planetarium in Winnipeg, a position he has held for the past 20 years.
So, get your questions ready and come chat with “Starman” today at Explore.org!
If you take an adventure to Churchill in the near future there are some “must see” attractions you should take in before you leave the frontier town. Of course some are season specific while some are year round accessible.
1.- Polar Bears: Not many people are unaware that Churchill is the polar bear mecca for viewing the “king of the Arctic”. During October and November the town is filled with high numbers of travelers hoping to see these amazing creatures in the wild. Of course summer also holds the potential for sighting fewer numbers of polar bears but still the chance exists. If you come during the winter to perhaps view northern lights, you will not see any as they are hunting seals on the Hudson bay ice. So plan a trip during the optimal window and come see the polar bears of Churchill!
Polar bears sparring in the Churchill wildlife management Area. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
2. Precambrian Shield: When in Churchill you will notice the rocky coastline and glacial polished rocks jutting out of the tundra in different areas of the surrounding area. You really will need to get out on the Precambrian shield and feel the energy that emanates from the heavy stone embedded in the Earth. The geological features are wondrous and magnificent and are some of the oldest rocks on the planet. You can easily become immersed in the natural history of the formations and see how the landscape adapts to their shape and movement.
A view across the Cape Merry barrens past the battery and to Fort prince of Wales. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
3. Churchill Northern Studies Center and surrounding area: At the far reaches of the main road out of Churchill heading east lies the old Fort Churchill Rocket Range. These grounds are now occupied by the new and improved Churchill Northern Studies Center. The center is a bastion for Arctic researchers and travelers to live and learn from the incredible diversity of the ecosystems colliding in one place. A tour of the facility and exploring the lakes and patterned ground in the area via trails is a must for getting a feel for the true sub-Arctic biome.
Churchill Northern Studies Center. CNSC photo.
4. Northern Lights: Another fairly obvious “must see” in Churchill. Located under Van Allens belt in the magnetic field of our atmosphere, Churchill is an optimal location to take in these mystical and scintillating lights. Natural Habitat Adventures has a new option to view the aurora; an Aurora Pod. With other various viewing options available as well, this is an absolute must see in Churchill.
Natural Habitat’s Aurora Pod and an avid photographer. Alex de Vries – Magnifico photo.
5. -Cape Merry: This is probably the most beautiful and peaceful spot around Churchill. When guiding Churchill Arctic summer groups I would always bring the group there first as a relaxing orientation to the region. We would spend hours looking for flowers and studying the geology of the area. Fort Prince of Wales is just across the Churchill River (often teeming with beluga whales in summer) and the vast expanse of the Hudson Bay unveils itself as far as the eye can see.
Ammunition cache at Cape Merry for cannon protection of Fort prince of Wales. Karen Walker photo.
The Churchill Rocket Range at Fort Churchill has been an integral part of Canadian rocket research within the sub – orbital atmosphere. Located just east of Churchill, the site has been used since the 1950’s for multiple launches of various rockets such as the Nike-Orion and Black Brant. Closed today, the range has gone through many transitions over the years.
Black Brant rocket at the Churchill rocket Range. Courtesy Natural Habitat
Churchill’s unique proximity in the “western hemisphere” coupled with its wide open range firing northwards made it optimal not only for incredible polar bear viewing but for rocket launching as well. Test rockets are still being discovered today in the vast, wide open tundra.
1. – The rocket range was built in 1954 by the Canadian Army to study long distance communication capabilities and the affects the aurora borealis has on them.
3. – In 1959 the U. S. Army reopened the rocket range as a sounding rocket test station. It was used to test rockets which evolved into the Black Brant utilizing new solid fuel propellant. Fire destroyed much of the facility in 1960 and 12 additional test launches of the black Brant were scheduled at NASA’s Wallops Island in 1961-62 while the Churchill site was rebuilt. In 1970 the U. S. Army ended operations at the site.
Churchill rocket range from the air. Steve Selden photo.
4. – In 1970 the Churchill site was acquired by the Canadian Research Council to contribute to the Canadian Upper Atmosphere Research Program. The range was used intermittently during the 70’s and 80’s and shut down by 1990.
5. – Rumors surfaced in the mid 1990’s when Akjuit Aerospace announced development of the site aat a $300 million price tag was imminent. A Russian company named STC Complex signed a deal with Akjuit to launch polar – orbiting rockets carrying loads on surplus, re-purposed ICBM’s as part of the START treaty negotiations. In May 1998 Akjuit Aerospace closed down operations from financing problems as well as the collapse of the space exploration market in 2000.
A closer look at the Churchill Rocket Range today. Steve Selden photo.
Today the Churchill Rocket Range stands as a reminder of the frenetic past in Churchill as well as what might have been had Akjuit launched the ambitious new venture at the site. The buildings near the Churchill Northern Studies Center seem frozen in time, suspended in anticipation of what the future could have been.