If you could go stargazing anywhere in Canada, Jasper would definitely be among the best places to do it. Jasper National Park is the world’s largest dark sky preserve, making it by default the world’s unofficial star gazing playground. And at the end of the month, Jasper will celebrate the park’s designation with the Dark Sky Festival, which runs from October 25 to 27.
On Friday night, stargazers mix and mingle at the Mountain Galleries with Jay Ingram, the co-host of Discovery Channel’s science show, Daily Planet. After a few galactic cocktails, you can head over to the shores of Lake Annette and explore the night skies with special dark-sky telescopes. The next morning, continue your space exploration with solar telescopes that allow you to catch a glimpse of the sun and solar system. Astronomers will be on hand to help you find the perfect view. Along with a full-day schedule of astronomy talks at the Chaba Theatre, learn how to photograph the night skywith photography sessions featuring Yuichi Takasaka, whose images have been published by NASA and National Geographic. Finally, end the night at Pyramid Island for the ultimate evening of stargazing with friends and family. Astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Parks Canada, and the Edmonton Science Outreach Network will be present to offer plenty of gazing tips.
Covering over 11,000 square kilometers, the Jasper National Park must protect its nocturnal environment and maintain the sky’s dark clarity. Along with promoting a natural lack of lighting, the park also encourages the public to take in the beautiful skies as much as possible. Whether you’re a native to Jasper, a first-time gazer, or a long-time watcher, the festival guarantees a good time for everyone. Just be sure to leave your glow-in-the-dark attire at home.