If we had to come up with a list of our favourite things about getting out of the city, gazing up at a clear night sky would definitely be at the top. And though laying on your dock may seem like the best possible place to take in the stars, there are actually 17 parks and observatories across the country that have been designated as official Dark Sky Preserves by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Jasper National Park received the official label in 2011, becoming one of the world’s largest preserves.
To celebrate the special designation, Jasper now holds a Dark Sky Festival every October. This year’s (which ran from the 17th to 26th) featured a guest appearance by Chris Hadfield, photography workshops, stargazing tours, starlit musical performances, and more. If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend, take a look at Jasper-based photographer Jeff Bartlett’s photos below; they provide an incredible glimpse of what it’s like to spend time under the country’s darkest skies.
Words and Photos by Jeff Bartlett
I love stargazing from remote campsites as much as any outdoor adventurer, but I have always been more intrigued by astrophotography. Images of the Milky Way frozen in place or stars streaking across the sky reveal details that our eyes simply cannot capture.
In 2011, I moved to Jasper, Alberta, just as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated the national park a Dark Sky Preserve, an area free from artificial light. I was instantly hooked on capturing the night sky; however, I soon learned it was a long-term commitment. Perfect conditions—with clear skies and no moonlight—are rare.
After many years spent abroad, in 2011, freelance photographer and writer Jeff Bartlett settled in Jasper National Park, where he now photographs adventure sports, travel, and weddings. His words and images above originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Travel and Escape Magazine.