Vacation time is a great time to enjoy amateur astronomy, and this area has the dark skies needed to really enjoy this hobby. There are plenty of places to view the skies at the resort. The golf course right outside our front door was perfect for us. We used the driving range, which provided some benches and a wide-open expanse to look without the problem of yard and streetlights. The constellations were very vivid, and one could easily see the band of Milky Way crossing the sky—something we miss so greatly at our urban home. While just enjoying the view with one’s eyes or a pair of binoculars would be great, we planned to use some of our evenings for astronomy and brought our telescope with us.
The 8-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope brought the dark skies to life, and we had a clear view of the Whirlpool Galaxy, Ring, Eagle, and Dumbbell Nebulas, as well as many globular and open clusters. Our view off the driving range provided great views to the south, west, and east, so the treasure-filled skies near the constellation Sagittarius were easy to enjoy. The city of Brainerd to the south created a small dome of light pollution, but this stayed very close to the horizon, so it wasn’t much of an issue.
Even though our telescope is somewhat bulky, it was great to be able to simply walk from our unit to the site and allowed the family to enjoy the star watching more opposed to needing to drive out to a dark-sky site.
While this isn’t an activity everyone does on vacation, if you are interested in astronomy, it is just another reason to consider this area.