While it is great to visit Jasper during the mid-October Dark Sky festival, the great news is that Jasper is a Dark Sky Preserve all the time. I naively had thought Jasper turned all the lights off in town specifically for the festival. Thankfully this is totally wrong, so even if you’re not able to visit Jasper during the festival, you will be able to take in the grandeur of the stars here any time you come. You will, though, miss out on festival tradition of launching rocket ships out of 2 litre pop bottles (for the little kids), and creating rockets fuelled by gunpowder with their own little parachutes for the medium-aged kids and young at heart adults.
You may think a Dark Sky festival would be focused on night activities. While there are plenty of night sky activities scheduled, there’s also a ton of daytime activities. A number of members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada set up their own telescopes specially for daytime solar viewing. You could even see a sunspot on the sun in real time. Once night arrived again, the same telescopes were adjusted for stargazing and to view the moon.
Maligne Canyon Erosion Crisp
Here’s a view along the Maligne Canyon Hike, a hike that has no shortage of photo ops with clear turquoise water and dramatic canyon walls. Following the hike, drink down one of the specially crafted Dark Sky festival beers at the Jasper Brewing Company or go on a brewery tour.
The Jasper Skytram takes you up almost 3200 feet to a restaurant and gift shop building surrounded by a viewing platform that connects to a hiking path to the top of the mountain. During the Festival, a special night tram event was arranged where participants could spend time at the top of the tram stargazing with Colonel Chris Hadfield.
Sunwapta Falls Stars
Famous Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield has been a keynote speaker at the festival for the past few years. His stories of perseverance and possibility left all listeners’ heads spinning with ideas. A couple inspiring quotes I snagged from the Colonel’s talk were: “Impossible things happen, and they happen because of a huge amount of hard work”, “We must make people aware of their capabilities”, and “Art is how we really communicate with each other”. I also learned that it’s best to drink water with a straw when in space and that his Canadian guitar on the space station holds its tune very well.
Athabasca Star Trails BW
Special thanks to Jeff Bartlett, Jack Fusco,and Jack’s awesome lady Rachel for letting me be part of their group. Besides the great company, I’m almost certain I would’ve been eaten by a cougar, sasquatch, or possibly a chupacabra during the night had I ventured on my own.
Random Stream Light Poln
The Dark Sky festival goes ahead rain or shine. I woke up around 6am to capture sunrise the morning this photograph was created. I set up the camera, accidentally fell into a shallow creek filling my shoes with ice cold glacier fed water while trying to balance on rocks to get to the perfect spot. Then it started raining.
“If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Shortly after bolting to the car to protect my camera gear, the skies cleared and I was presented with this tranquil reflection of the mountains just after sunrise. Perseverance pays off, especially in the mountains.
Mountain Reflection 2
The clouds lingered around the mountain top just enough to keep the morning perfect for photography. Tourism Jasper
Following a morning of photography, I decided to tour a little way on Highway 93A, just off the Icefields Parkway South of Jasper. Since it was still quite early, it seemed like we had nature all to ourselves. Shortly before taking this photo at a roadside picnic area, we watched a big bull elk casually wander across the river.
Though Jasper is a Dark Sky Preserve, this kind of project doesn’t happen in full overnight. They don’t just go around with a garbage bag and take all the old lights away to replace all of them. Creating a Dark Sky Preserve in Jasper continues to be a phased approach, with lights being replaced with dark sky friendly LED lights as the old lights are burnt out paired with the installation of light shields that keep the light focused downward.
Athabasca Falls Moon
On the last day of the 9 day long festival, the former co-hosts of Mythbusters Grant Imahara, Kari Byron, and Tory Bellici spoke at the keynote event of the day. Among many insider stories and peeks into the making of Mythbusters as well as the career paths of these stars both before and after Mythbusters, we learned about infamous moon landing of 1969. A longstanding conspiracy theory, Grant, Kari, and Tory walked us through why the myth that the moon landing was a hoax is *spoiler alert* totally busted.
During the festival, three space and science seminars were put on by Alan Dyer, Dr. Brian Ventrudo, and Ivan Semeniuk to discuss the northern lights, Fermi’s Paradox as it relates to aliens, and Black Holes respectively.
Sunwapta Star Trails (1)
This photo is made up of 101 different photos stacked on each other to dot the star movement along until there is a solid line, or a trail.
Mind not blown yet? Then I’ll leave you with this incredible video of our sun courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:
https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/videos-highlight-sdos-fifth-anniversary Tourism Jasper