Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, was designated as a dark-sky preserve in 2011, which means it always offers spectacular stargazing opportunities. Next month, however, there will be even more for stargazers to enjoy.
The Jasper Dark Sky Festival, a two-week event, will be held from October 14 to 23. In addition to having plenty of time to enjoy viewing the night sky, the festival will feature numerous guest speakers, hiking tours, guided talks, workshops about night sky photography, yoga under the stars, and even a symphony concert under the stars.
Here’s what you need to know about attending the festival.
Jasper’s Dark Sky
Of the four national parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park is both the farthest north and the largest — spanning some 4,200 square miles.
Visitors travel to the park to explore its backcountry, take alpine day hikes, paddle rivers, walk and hike, ride mountain bikes, and, of course, watch wildlife. Indeed, depending on the time of year, visitors may see black or grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, deer, mountain goats, cougars, wolves, coyotes, beavers, and other wildlife.
“According to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a Dark Sky Preserve is an area in which no artificial lighting is visible, and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities,” according to Jasper Dark Sky Festival. “Sky glow from beyond the borders of the preserve will be of comparable intensity, or less, to that of natural sky glow.”
Jasper National Park is one of 17 designated dark-sky Preserves in Canada. Plus, it’s not only the second largest dark-sky preserve in the world, but it’s also the largest accessible dark-sky preserve because the town of Jasper is within the preserve.
The Festival’s Speakers And Events
Part of what makes the Dark Sky Festival appealing is its lineup of noted speakers. For instance, Delalune Space founder Rob Meyerson, SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak, scientist-astronaut candidate Dr. Shawna Pandya, and science communicator Jay Ingram will all be on-hand this year for talks and discussions, as will spaceflight author Emily Carney and astrophysicist Emma Louden.
Meanwhile, indigenous events will include “Fireside Chats with Warrior Women,” a pahkisimon sunset ceremony at Lake Annette, and guided plant walks.
There will even be a symphony under the stars, performed by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Other events include helicopter tours and rides with astronomy experts from the Jasper Planetarium aboard the Jasper Skytram to the Skytram Upper Station. Once there, visitors will be able to use telescopes to look at the stars.
Know Before You Go
The town of Jasper, located in Jasper National Park, is 257 miles from Calgary by car. It’s also 230 miles from Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.
If you’re planning to attend the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, you’ll want to keep in mind that there are fees for some of the events. For example, tickets for adults for the “SkyTram Flight, Dinner, & Stargazing Experience” are $154.
You can find the calendar of events, along with information about each event and any associated fees, here.
You can learn more about the Jasper Dark Sky Festival here.
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