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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Jasper Darkish Sky Competition | Every thing You Must Know

Having fun at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival
Displaying off my Jasper Darkish Sky Competition bomber jacket.

The Jasper Darkish Sky Competition in Jasper, Alberta, is an out-of-this-world expertise you gained’t need to miss! Think about a weekend full of stargazing, dwell music, fascinating astronomy talks, and the prospect to witness the gorgeous fantastic thing about the evening sky in one of many world’s largest Darkish Sky Preserves. Whether or not you’re a seasoned astronomer or just a lover of the cosmos, this pageant gives one thing for everybody. Discover the mysteries of the universe by means of highly effective telescopes, embark on celestial-themed hikes, and even benefit from the alternative to satisfy famend scientists and house consultants. Plus, the charming mountain city of Jasper gives the right backdrop in your cosmic journey.

So, in case you’re searching for a novel and enchanting getaway that’s really “out of this world,” mark your calendar for the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition and put together to be starstruck!

What’s a Darkish Sky Protect?

Darkish-Sky Preserves are protected areas that make a particular dedication to guard and protect the evening, decreasing or eliminating gentle air pollution in all kinds. Many vegetation, wildlife and bugs depend on darkness to forage, breed and navigate so defending the darkish sky not solely gives a magical expertise for you, nevertheless it additionally protects ecosystems!

Jasper grew to become an official Darkish Sky Protect in 2011 and is one in every of 17 designated Darkish Sky Preserves in Canada. Jasper can be the second largest Darkish Sky Protect on the planet and the biggest accessible Darkish Sky Protect – which means there’s a city throughout the limits of the protect.

Northern Lights in Canada
Watching the Northern Lights dance above the mountains.

Issues to Do on the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition

After years of eager to expertise the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition, we lastly made it occur in October 2023. It’s not like anybody wants an excuse to go to the lovely city of Jasper, however when it consists of the prospect to expertise the world’s largest accessible Darkish Sky protect whereas getting a deeper look and appreciation of the whole lot that surrounds this place we referred to as Earth, it’s an exquisite time to go to.

The Jasper Darkish Sky Competition takes place over three weekends each October. You’ll need to go to their web site to see the weekend actions and resolve while you need to go. You could possibly additionally keep all the three weeks and really absorb one of the vital lovely locations on the planet. October is, in spite of everything, a good time to go to. Whereas a number of the heat climate actions are not accessible and the winter actions are but to start, Fall brings good cool temperatures, autumn colors, and fewer individuals. The solar additionally drops under the horizon sooner than in the summertime, permitting you to start out gazing on the stars a lot earlier. October additionally tends to be a great month to probably see the Northern Lights, which we had been fortunate sufficient to identify this time round.

All in all, the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition gives a variety of actions and experiences for attendees to take pleasure in. Listed here are a number of the prime issues to do throughout your subsequent go to.


Expertise the awe-inspiring fantastic thing about the evening sky in one of many world’s largest Darkish Sky Preserves. That is the cornerstone of this common pageant. You possibly can wait till nighttime and simply admire the celebs from the streets of Jasper or you’ll be able to partake in one of many many supplied actions, similar to becoming a member of guided stargazing periods the place you’ll be able to observe celestial wonders by means of highly effective telescopes and find out about constellations, planets, and distant galaxies.

A few of the actions sometimes supplied embrace a Planetarium Dome Theatre Expertise, a Telescope Expertise, a Geocaching Darkish Sky Treasure Hunt, and a particular journey as much as the highest of a mountain, which we’ll speak about under.

Jasper Dark Sky Festival star sessions
Northern lights in Jasper National Park.
Admiring the Northern Lights from the Jasper SkyTram facility.

Jasper SkyTram Star Periods

The Jasper SkyTram Star Periods expertise deserves its personal class as a result of it really is a novel strategy to expertise the darkish skies of Jasper. The Jasper SkyTram takes company up a whopping 2,263 metres to the highest of Whistler’s Mountain, which gives easy accessibility to a boardwalk and climbing trails within the alpine zone of the Canadian Rockies. This summer time attraction closes down within the late fall and sometimes doesn’t run at evening. Through the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition, nonetheless, company should buy tickets to Star Periods, which features a journey up the mountain simply earlier than sundown, a 3-course dinner on the prime, and the chance to witness the darkish sky from the highest of a mountain.

For us, this was really the spotlight of our journey. There’s nothing fairly like experiencing a sundown from the highest of a mountain but additionally having the ability to gaze by means of highly effective telescopes above the city and, in our case, see the Northern Lights above the mountains, is actually a once-in-a-lifetime expertise.

Astronomy Talks at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
Science For Breakfast occasion with Erich Karkoschka.

Astronomy Talks

One other actually fascinating and distinctive attraction of the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition is having the chance to take heed to informative and interesting talks by famend astronomers and house consultants. These periods present fascinating insights into the cosmos, the newest discoveries, and the mysteries of the universe.

Throughout our go to, we loved the Science For Breakfast occasion with Erich Karkoschka, a Planetary Scientist who taught us to look at deep-sky objects within the evening sky, whether or not utilizing the bare eye, binoculars, or a big telescope. we realized about the kind of info wanted to search out deep-sky objects, how you can find objects utilizing finder charts, and which observing strategies are wanted to see enhanced particulars.

Quite a few different breakfast, lunch, and brunch occasions characteristic many different fascinating individuals, similar to skilled photographers, astronomers, synthetic intelligence consultants, and extra.

Astrophotography Workshops

You’ve in all probability seen some unbelievable images in case you’re impressed to search for on the darkish sky. Fortunately, you’ll be able to study the artwork of capturing the evening sky by means of images whereas attending the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition. Skilled photographers will information you thru the strategies to take gorgeous photos of stars, planets, and the Milky Approach, instructing you how you can work your means as much as these wonderful photographs we’ve all been impressed by.

Listed here are some Evening Sky images tricks to get you began:

  • Publicity: Publicity ought to sit round 15-25 seconds. If you shoot 30 seconds or longer, you may even see small star trails.
  • White Steadiness: Set your white steadiness to tungsten or fluorescent as auto steadiness tends to create an orange evening sky.
  • Format: RAW is all the time finest if you wish to maximize your enhancing choices.
  • Settings: When there’s not lots of moonlight, you need to use ISO 1600 or 3200 and a 25-second publicity with f/2.8 or 30 seconds with f/4.
Family fun at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
Watching rockets soar into the sky throughout the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition.

Science and House Reveals

As we explored the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition, I couldn’t assist however think about how a lot the characters in The Huge Bang Idea would have liked it. It is because you’ll be able to discover interactive reveals and shows that showcase the wonders of astronomy, house exploration, and the science behind the cosmos.

One very talked-about exercise, particularly for teenagers, is the prospect to construct a bit rocket and launch it in entrance of spectators. That is placed on by The Edmonton Rocketry Membership (ERC), which is devoted to the promotion of mannequin rocketry as a interest. For simply $20, you’re given a rocket equipment that you could construct instantly and put together to launch. Rocket Constructing periods sometimes happen on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings earlier than launching them from Commemoration Park within the afternoon. As well as, you’ll be able to see a big show of rockets of assorted sizes and designs, and watch them be launched as properly.

One other nice occasion is Sciencefest, which is introduced by TELUS World of Science. Additionally held in Commemoration Park, youngsters will like to study and take part in a bunch of science experiments, similar to standing on gentle bulbs, firing a ping pong ball by means of a can, bouncing an egg and launching a water-powered rocket.

Occasions can change however as you’ll be able to see, youngsters and adults alike can get their science and house repair on the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition.

Guided Nighttime Hikes

With so many world-class climbing trails close by, that is your probability to embark on guided hikes underneath the starry sky, the place you’ll be able to benefit from the tranquillity of the forest and the magical ambiance of the darkish skies. Some hikes are led by astronomy consultants who share their data as you stroll.

One of many evening hikes at this yr’s occasion was referred to as Animals of the Evening Hike, a family-friendly evening hike up on Pyramid Bench. This hike mixed the chance to study all in regards to the native nocturnal wildlife whereas having fun with a scenic 4km route. For those who’ve by no means skilled climbing underneath the celebs, it is a nice probability to do it with a information and different individuals, making it a safer and extra fulfilling expertise.

ᐸᐦᑭᓯᒧᐣ Pahkisimon at Jasper Dark Sky Festival
Watching performers throughout ᐸᐦᑭᓯᒧᐣ Pahkisimon on the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition.

Concert events and Leisure

One other nice half in regards to the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition is the dwell music performances and leisure that add a festive ambiance to the occasion. Musicians and artists usually incorporate celestial themes into their acts, which provides to the expertise.

One of many musical occasions that we attended was ᐸᐦᑭᓯᒧᐣ Pahkisimon, a free Indigenous celebration held on the shores of gorgeous Lake Annette, beginning simply earlier than sundown with a ceremonial tipi elevating adopted by instructing, hand-drumming and a music by Warrior Girls. We witnessed the whole lot from Indigenous rap to a neighborhood pow-wow drumming session. One of many occasions we want we might have skilled is Symphony Below the Stars, which featured the magic of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings, amplified by the Rocky Mountains, underneath hundreds of twinkling stars, all subsequent to the illustrious Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Workshops and Household Actions

Take part in hands-on workshops, family-friendly actions, and academic applications that cater to all ages. These actions make studying about house and astronomy enjoyable and accessible to everybody. A few of these workshops and actions embrace Sciencefest, Planetarium experiences, and way more.

Drone Exhibits

As a substitute of fireworks, the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition options drone exhibits on some evenings, showcasing lovely patterns within the sky, all created by synchronized drones. That is usually a favorite for adults and youngsters alike.

breakfast at Terra in Jasper, Alberta.
Having fun with the most effective breakfasts on the town at Terra.

Eat Your Coronary heart Out

One other wonderful thing about visiting Jasper is the array of eating places, bars, and eating choices, a few of which create dark-sky-themed drinks and different objects. You’ll discover the whole lot from tremendous eating to quick meals, making it very simple to tantalize your tastebuds day-after-day. A few of our favourites embrace:

  • Jasper Pizza Place: This place is understood for making the most effective pizza on the town and it didn’t disappoint. The star points of interest are pizzas from their wooden burning and conventional ovens. Nonetheless, additionally they serve burgers, pasta, salads, steaks and an array of appetizers together with wings, recent salsa & chips, and calamari.
  • Terra: Terra, which is impressed by the rawness of Jasper, is one in every of our favorite eating places in all of Alberta. Domestically farmed and foraged fare is on the coronary heart of what they do and the whole lot from brunch to dinner is scrumptious. Just like the seasons, their menus are always altering to include pure, native elements.
  • Jasper Brewing Firm: For those who’re searching for a tasty meal with equally scrumptious beer, it is best to cease by Jasper’s Nationwide Park Brewery. Six signature beers are brewed on-site, utilizing solely the most effective premium hops and malts mixed with their very personal cultured yeast strains. Our favorite beer was the Tangerine Dream and our favorite meal throughout our go to was the Korean Fried Hen Sandwich.

You possibly can study extra about different eating places and actions in our detailed information to the finest issues to do in Jasper.

Jasper Brewing Company.
Having fun with beer on the Jasper Brewing Firm.
Moose in Jasper National Park.
This isn’t a portray! We snapped a photograph of this moose throughout our wildlife tour with SunDog Excursions.

Scenic Fantastic thing about Jasper

Whereas in a roundabout way a part of the pageant, you merely should take a while to discover the gorgeous landscapes and wildlife of Jasper Nationwide Park throughout the day. The breathtaking pure fantastic thing about the Canadian Rockies will depart you in awe.

A few of the sights and actions we suggest are:

  • Driving the Icefields Parkway: Often known as the most effective street journeys on the planet, the drive between Jasper and Lake Louise needs to be excessive in your bucket listing. You’ll go by spectacular views, gorgeous glacial lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and extra. Be sure to cease alongside the best way at sights similar to Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Tangle Creek Falls, Peyto Lake, and the Athabasca Glacier.
  • Winter Wildlife Discovery Tour: For those who’re eager on seeing wildlife and don’t have your car (or would love a educated information), you’ll be able to take a wildlife tour with SunDog Excursions the place you’ll study in regards to the historical past, geology and ecology of the realm, and be capable of ask questions and take images of the placing landscapes. Winter is a novel time of yr for wildlife within the park with elk, deer, big-horned sheep, goats, coyotes, wolves, moose, foxes and lynx roaming round. For those who’re fortunate, you might simply seize some on digicam to share along with your envious mates! Throughout our tour, we noticed two moose!
  • Maligne Canyon: This lovely canyon is barely quarter-hour from the city and is the deepest canyon in Jasper Nationwide Park, with a depth of greater than 50 metres at sure factors. Hikers of all talents can discover this unbelievable pure landmark by crossing six bridges constructed throughout varied factors of the canyon. For these searching for a mild hike, head over the First and Second bridges. The Second Bridge is the very best level of the canyon, standing greater than 50 metres above the water.
  • Valley of the 5 Lakes: This hike is a pleasant gradual stroll that passes 5 completely different colored lakes, it’s appropriate for almost everybody as there are loop trails starting from 3km-9km and there’s minimal elevation achieve. For those who’re comfy, do all the 9km loop round all 5 lakes, if little legs on little individuals get drained we are able to make the tour a bit bit shorter to maintain everybody comfortable and nonetheless benefit from the spectacular views and the gorgeous lakes.
  • Previous Fort Level Loop: Uncover this 3.7-km loop path close to Jasper, Alberta. It’s usually thought-about a reasonably difficult route. This can be a very talked-about space for birding, climbing, and street biking, so that you’ll possible encounter different individuals whereas exploring. The most effective instances to go to this path are March by means of October.

The place is the Greatest Place to See the Evening Sky in Jasper

One of many advantages of watching the evening sky from Jasper is that you could see it from wherever. Even from the city itself, it is best to be capable of see the Milky Approach. Nonetheless, it’s all the time finest to keep away from all the sunshine air pollution, so with that in thoughts, a number of the finest locations to see the evening sky from Jasper is:

  • Lake Annette: Positioned close to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, this lovely lake is surrounded by mountains.
  • Previous Fort Level: Positioned 2 km south of Jasper, that is one other good spot to admire the darkish skies.
  • Maligne Lake: This vacation spot requires a 1-hour drive, because it sits 48 km southeast of Jasper. The freeway can be identified for wildlife, so be cautious driving at evening and take your time.
  • Pyramid Island: Positioned simply previous Pyramid Lake Resort, this location is 7 km north of Jasper.
  • Drugs Lake: Positioned 25 km southeast of Jasper, that is one other good spot to see the celebs.
  • Jasper Planetarium: You’ll discover the Jasper Planetarium on the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which is 7 km southeast of Jasper.
Driving the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper.
The world-famous Icefields Parkway.

The best way to Get to Jasper

Jasper is a type of uncommon locations the place merely getting there’s a part of the expertise. Jasper is positioned roughly 365 km (four-hour drive) southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. That is the place the closest worldwide airport may be discovered. Nonetheless, one of the simplest ways to reach can be through the Icefields Parkway, which is called one of the vital lovely street journeys on the planet. The Icefields Parkway stretches from Lake Louise in Banff Nationwide Park to Jasper Nationwide Park. That is additionally the freeway you’d take in case you’re coming from Calgary, which is about 415 km (a five-hour drive). Please understand that in case you drive the Icefields Parkway, you want considerably extra time to cease off and see the numerous sights, similar to glaciers and waterfalls. I might enable 2-3 further hours at the least. As well as, the Icefields Parkway may be treacherous within the winter months and sometimes closed because of avalanches. You additionally want winter tires as it’s obligatory from November to April.

By now, I hope I’ve impressed you so as to add this pageant to your Canadian bucket listing. The Jasper Darkish Sky Competition gives a incredible mix of training, leisure, and pure magnificence, making it a must-attend occasion for anybody with an curiosity in astronomy and a love for the cosmos.

The place to Keep

Bear Hill Lodge, Jasper, Alberta.

There are numerous resorts to select from in Jasper, together with luxurious choices just like the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. You possibly can simply search Expedia for the most effective choices, however in case you’re searching for one thing proper on the town that’s excellent for the household, we are able to suggest Bear Hill Lodge. We had a cabin with two rooms side-by-side, a full kitchen, and a hearth.

For extra issues to do in Jasper and past, take a look at our different journey guides under:

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