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Dark-Sky Sites:




Town: Ontario

Observing site: Wildcat Mountain State Park

Address:  E. 13660 Hwy 33

Contact: Lenore Schroeder

Phone: (608) 337-4775


Restrictions:  State Park vehicle admission pass (sticker) required.  Camping fee required.  Park open 6 am- 11pm.  Overnight campers allowed after 11 pm.  Good viewing from the Group camp area.  Observation point good westerly viewing.  To make camping reservations go on-line at or call 1888-947-2757.

Directions: Located in Southwestern Wisconsin near Ontario where State Hwys. 33 and 131 cross.  From Madison: NW on I-90/94 to exit 106 Hwy 33.  Take Hwy 33 west about 64 miles to park entrance.  From LaCrosse: Take State Hwy 33 east about 38 miles to Park entrance.  Click here for a Google Map.

Coordinates: Latitude: 43 42' 02" North, Longitude: 90 33' 41" West.

Current weather:      Click for Ontario, Wisconsin Forecast


How are the sky conditions?  The sky is excellent for observing and imaging.  On humid nights, minimal sky glow can be observed in the west from Ontario and also in the northeast.  The sky glow under these conditions does not extend above 15 degrees and is not observable after midnight.  Nights after storms are exceptional for seeing and transparency.  Objects like M13 and M33 are distinct naked-eye.  On clear dry nights the milky way is visible in detail from horizon to horizon. Faint auroral displays are visible and have been photographed.  Dark skies permit excellent deep sky astrophotographs with conventional, digital and CCD cameras.  No gradients due to light pollution are evident in CCD images from any direction and background levels in images are the same in all directions.

Bortle Darkness Scale: Typical conditions are between class 2 and 3; exceptional nights reach Class 2.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 7
     East: 6
     West: 6
     North: 5
     South: 6

Best horizon:  Viewing in all directions is good.

Worst horizon:  North

Comments from contributor:  Geography is unglaciated Precambrain sandstone with limestone tops and many exposed bluffs.  This driftless area is offers views of forested hills and valleys dominated by maples, oaks, poplars, and pines.  Mt. Pisgah State Natural of the park area features walking fern and hemlock along with an impressive assortment of wildflowers, ferns, lichens, liverworts and fungi.  There are 29 Family campsites and 3 Group campsites available.  Check web-site for availability or to reserve a site. The highest elevation benchmark at Wildcat is 1265 at the observation point. Elroy-Sparta State Trail is 15 minutes from Wildcat. The winding Kickapoo River offers canoeing outfitters in the Village of Ontario.  Amish crafts, furniture, quilts and baked goods along Hwy 33 and in the area for day excursions. 

Wildcat Mountain State Park has been host to an annual star party.  Photographs of the skies from this group are on display at the park nature building. Kickapoo Valley Reserve (KVR) 8,560-acres abuts Wildcat to the south and would offer dark sky viewing opportunities. Call the KVR at (608) 625-2960 or on-line at for more information on camping, trails, fees or night sky viewing.

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Town: Poniatowski

Observing Site: Center of the Northwest Hemisphere Park

Address: Highway 29 West

Zip Code: 54426

Restrictions: none

Directions:  From Wausau, head west on State Highway 29.  Go approximately 20 miles and turn north onto County Route M.  Go 4.5 miles and turn east County Route U. Go 1 mile and turn north onto Meridian road.  Go approx 1/4 mi to the geographical marker site on the right.  Click here to create a map using Mapquest.

Current weather:   Click for Edgar, Wisconsin Forecast

How are the sky conditions?  For Wisconsin, this site is very good. Closest town of 1,200 is approximately 3 miles away to the Northwest. Next closest is about the same size 6 miles to the southeast It's a rural, dairy farming area. Largest city is 150,000 25 miles to the east/southeast.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:

     At the zenith:










Best horizon:  South, east and west - cut off at about 5 degrees

Worst horizon:  North and northwest - cut off at about 12 degrees

Comments from contributor:  There's a country tavern 1/2 mile to the east in the unincorporated town of Poniatowski. They have a register to sign for those who've been interested enough to make the journey to this somewhat out of the way but unique geographical spot. They're often open for refreshments and good company until 2 a.m. On Friday evenings they have their (Wisconsin's) traditional fish fry suppers.

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