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Everything You Need to Know About Jasper’s Dark Sky



Brought to you by Tourism Jasper

As one of the world’s largest dark sky preserves, Jasper National Park is the perfect location to embrace the night – whether you want to sleep under a blanket of stars, stare into the mesmerizing milky way or watch the awe-inspiring aurora.

Photo by Ryan Bray.

1/ What is a Dark Sky Preserve? 

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. Sky glow from beyond the borders of the preserve will be of comparable intensity, or less, to that of natural sky glow.”

2/ What’s so different about Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve?

Jasper National Park is one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada. We are the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and we are the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve – meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.

3/ Where are some of the best places to go stargazing in Jasper?

At 11,000 square kilometers, the opportunities for stargazing within the park are endless. Want to narrow down your options? Here’s a list we compiled of Jasper’s top 10 stargazing spots to get you started!

Dark Sky events at Lake Annette. Photo by Ryan Bray.

4/ What is the Dark Sky Festival?

The Jasper Dark Sky Festival Presented by Rocky Mountaineer is an annual celebration of Jasper National Park’s Dark Sky Preserve designation earned in 2011. With over 15,000 attendees last year alone, the ever-growing Dark Sky Festival consistently finds new ways for visitors to explore their celestial curiosities.

5/ What’s happening at the 2017 Dark Sky Festival?

Running from October 13-22, 2017, this year’s festival features international guest speakers, awesome activities and fantastic free events. With the help of Rocky Mountaineer, Subaru, CN, TELUS World of Science – Edmonton and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre, visitors are given the opportunity to get lost in Jasper’s iridescent starlight – all while gaining a close connection to the cosmos.

October 13-15, 2017

Stargazers and music lovers alike are invited to take in the ethereal sounds of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and gaze up into Jasper’s stunning night sky during the festival’s first weekend.

An Evening of Music with Jazz Legends Tommy Banks and PJ Perry

Date: Friday, October 13th, 2017
Time: 8:00 – 9:30 PM
Location: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Witness the magic of Juno award winning jazz musicians Tommy Banks and PJ Perry as they’re accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Friday, October 13th.

Symphony Under the Stars. Photo courtesy Tourism Jasper.

Symphony Under the Stars

Date: Saturday, October 14th, 2017
Time: 8:00 – 9:30 PM
Location: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Bundle up under the Milky Way for a second night with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra as they celebrate the Dark Sky Festival with melodic compositions and classical favorites.

The stellar vibes don’t end there, this is a weekend of music, entertainment, and more! There are plenty of signature events happening, including the Jasper Planetarium’s Dome Experience and the daytime solar/lunar astronomy tour, Skytram Star Sessions with the Jasper Skytram and Jasper Planetarium, and dark sky yoga with Jasper Wellness.

October 20-22, 2017

With space and science presentations, fascinating keynote speakers and educational dark sky workshops, this action-packed weekend is sure to satisfy the curious interstellar wonderer!

Keynote with Brian Cox and Phil Plait

Date: Friday, October 20th, 2017
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Location: Jasper SkyTram

Shuttles will be provided for ticket holders to whisk them up to join world-renowned physicist and rock star scientist Brian Cox and the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait as they tackle some of the hottest topics in the universe with their title presentation: Bring Deep Space Down to Earth.

Want to meet Brian and Phil yourself? Sign up for the exclusive VIP Meet and Greet to go behind the scenes after their presentation.

Brian Cox and Phil Plait. Photos courtesy Tourism Jasper.

Beyond the Stars at Lake Annette

Date: Friday, October 20th, 2017
Time: 8:00 – 11:00 PM
Location: Lake Annette

Shuttle your way to the shores of Lake Annette for an incredibly memorable star gazing experience. Beyond the Stars offers people of all ages a variety of free, intimate and interactive programming with Parks Canada interpreters, TELUS World of Science – Edmonton, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Edmonton Centre and several other special guests.

Did we mention that it’s FREE?!


Date: Saturday, October 21st, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: Jasper SkyTram

Join this rocket-fueled power panel as they grapple with what we’ve learned from the exploration of space, and where we’re going next. Moderated by CBC Radio’s Bob McDonald, the space-savvy presenting panel include Rocket Scientist/Explorer Natalie Panek, Astrophysicist Rob Thacker, Scientific American Contributing Editor John Rennie and Greg Redfern, A NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador since 2003. For more information, click here.

In addition to the main events, the second weekend welcomes back the Jasper Planetarium and the Jasper Skytram’s Star Sessions, and introduces new photography workshops and events hosted at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre and stargazing events with RASC – Edmonton Centre. 

6/ Is October the only time to celebrate Jasper’s Dark Sky?

Definitely not! Whether it’s the middle of winter or the beginning of spring, Jasper is the ideal place to immerse yourself in dreamy mountain nightscapes and gaze out into the universe. As a year-round destination for star seekers, Jasper’s businesses offer some exceptional dark sky themed experiences to get visitors pumped about stars, planets and the universe!

The Jasper PlanetariumThe Jasper Planetarium has been feeding the curious minds of Rocky Mountain star gazers with special events, digital planetarium tours, and guided telescope viewing opportunities (with the largest, most powerful telescope in the Rockies!). The planetarium’s experienced astronomy guides will personally take you on the Rockies’ only 100% sit-down tour for a world-exclusive look at the heavens over the lakes, canyons, glaciers, and mountaintops of Jasper Dark Sky Preserve. 

Jasper Planetarium Telescope. Photo by Ryan Bray.

The Jasper SkyTram – Blast off with astronomy experts from the Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience with SkyTram Star Sessions. Your SkyTram flight will take you nearly 1 km closer to the stars above, to the upper station, where you’ll have the chance to look through the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies, under the darkest skies in the Rockies.

Join a guided tour of the Solar System, learning about planets, galaxies, and constellations, and if you’re lucky, you might even see a meteor or the Northern Lights! You’ll also have a chance to attend a special talk on Canada’s dark skies or a quick workshop about how to photograph objects in the night sky with your DSLR camera.

Jasper Photo Guide – Offering dark sky photo tours from fall through spring, Jasper Photo Guide (led by Jasper photographer, Jeff Lewis) will take visitors on 2-4-hour trips to different locations within the park, depending on the night.

For those looking to spend some more time capturing Jasper’s spectacular beauty, Jasper Photo Guide also offers 3-day intensive photography workshops that often include dark sky shooting and editing.

Need some pointers before you head out to take photos in the park? Read Jeff’s photo tips blog here.   

Maligne Canyon Icewalk – Visit Maligne Canyon at night for a different, mesmerizing journey with Maligne Adventures or Sundog Tours. Under a full moon, the canyon is like a cast diamond, glowing and twinkling before you. Strap on a headlamp, and look up at the stars.  Behind a curtain of ice your guide will hold up a spotlight illuminating 30-metre ice pillars in a natural light display.  The sweeping ice formations shimmer blue and green — the colours of one of the finest winter walks in the Canadian Rockies.


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.

Welcome those prepared to Venture Beyond. How far are you willing to go? Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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