In 2011, the alpine town of Jasper, Alberta received its dark sky preserve designation, or DSP, from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The designation, which restricts levels of artificial light and light pollution in the region, protects one of Jasper’s most attractive assets: Jasper National Park, an 11,000-square-kilometre swath of wilderness, already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and more specifically, the sky above it. In the years since the DSP came into effect, Jasper has celebrated all things celestial with an annual Dark Sky Festival, which will welcome 15,000 star-watchers (that’s over three times Jasper’s population) to ogle the cosmos this October.
“October is the perfect month for stargazing, as the nights get longer, leaving more opportunity for stargazers to enjoy the truly dark skies of Jasper,” says Lauren Graham of Tourism Jasper. “Jasper has the second largest dark sky preserve in the world, and offers visitors a unique perspective of the natural night sky—without the limitations of light pollution.”
“October is the perfect month for stargazing…”
The 10-day festival includes both daytime and nighttime activities, and a host of fun and educational events from open-air concerts and symphonies, to yoga under the stars, and numerous speakers and panel discussions. “This year’s festival includes the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, jazz legends Tommy Banks and PJ Perry, keynote speakers Brian Cox and Phil Plait, and an exceptional panel of experts,” says Graham.
The stars of the show, however, are clearly the stars themselves—and perhaps a sighting of the Northern Lights, if you’re lucky. Whether you’re an astrophile or a budding stargazer, the experience of standing near Maligne Lake (the world’s second largest glacier-fed lake), with snow-capped mountains and pristine evergreen forest on all sides, taking in the vastness of unobstructed, heavenward views is certain to leave you star-struck.
The Dark Sky Festival runs from October 13 to 22, 2017.
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