POWER DOWN, LOOK UP:
JASPER’S DARK SKY
By Crowfoot Media
Few memories stand out as poignantly as the times we poke our heads out of tent flaps to look up at a sky so vast and speckled with stars that it literally takes our breath away. Or when word of a meteor shower inspires us to hike up a mountainside with sleeping bags, and hunker down for the best show of the year…
When was the last time you looked at the stars?
Moments of pure, stargazing bliss are oases in our otherwise busy lifestyles, where our days are dominated by computer screens, and social lives operate through smartphones and social media. Even small doses of domesticity keep us tied to light switches, streetlights and the ambient light of alarm clocks and battery chargers.
Darkness, in this day and age, is a rare commodity.
WHICH IS WHAT MAKES PLACES LIKE
JASPER NATIONAL PARK SO SPECIAL.
At 11,228km2, Jasper is the world’s second largest Dark Sky Preserve, and the only preserve in Canada containing a town wholly within its boundaries. Having the town of Jasper as a gateway makes the night skies wonderfully accessible for star-gazers. All you need to do is look up. With 97 per cent of the park designated as a wilderness area, the darkest skies can be reached just outside the comforts of the town, where the Rocky Mountains shield you from the distant glow of larger cities.
When you’re not looking up at night, you can make the most of all the adventures this exciting mountain landscape has to offer.
THE JASPER DARK SKY FESTIVAL
While dark skies await you year-round in Jasper, October has been declared Dark Sky Month, when shorter days make it easier to access nighttime sky viewing. The heart of this month-long celebration is the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, a multi-day event that will make you fall in love with astronomy and make you seriously consider ditching your day-job to become an astronaut, astronomer or scientist.
This family-friendly festival brings in sought after speakers with the ultimate stargazing credentials, which this year include Canada’s favourite moustachioed astronaut, Colonel Chris Hadfield, and the former hosts of the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters.
“People are pretty jazzed about the festival,” says Niki Wilson, the festival’s Big Stage Host & Science Content Advisor. “To be honest, after Colonel Hadfield’s show last year it was as if the people in attendance had been sprinkled with a little fairy dust – they seemed to be on such a high!”
From stargazing at the Athabasca Glacier to a Dark Sky Photography Workshop or a unique culinary experience at the Jasper Planetarium, there are many more events to round-up your festival experience.
“In addition to this festival,” said Rogier Gruys, Product Development Officer with Jasper National Park,” [the park] offers Dark Sky interpretation and visitor experiences. This includes program topics that vary from nocturnal ecology and cultural interpretation of the night sky to astronomical viewing.”
So, power down your gadgets, power down your life. Come get lost in the wonder of one of the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserves. Look up and be bewildered. And remember how it made you feel.
Jasper is your base of adventure: an awe-inspiring and authentic Rocky Mountain destination – the entry point to Canada’s most epic experiences. It is from here that the greatest personal expeditions begin; where explorers and wanderers from around the world converge to enjoy the activities, accommodations, restaurants, and businesses of the town of Jasper, before taking on the real Canadian Rockies of Jasper National Park.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles on CrowfootMedia.com are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.