I've had the absolute pleasure of attending the Annual Dark Sky Festival with in Jasper National Park for the last two years. Each time I left thinking, "Well, I don't know how they're going to top that next year." Last year they had none other than Col. Chris Hadfield as the keynote speaker! I was convinced this year would be good, but that they couldn't possibly top that.
Well, they figured out how to do it. This year for the 2015 Jasper Dark Sky Fest, not only will Col. Chris Hadfild will be returning to Jasper, but Grant, Kari and Tory from the MythBusters fame will all be attending as well! Not to mention a full lineup of amazing dark sky related events running from October 15th to 26th.
On the 23rd, you can join special guests from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, TELUS World of Science Edmonton and members of Parks Canada for an amazing stargazing event at Lake Annette. This really is an incredible opportunity for seasoned and brand new stargazers alike. You can stay up to date with a full list of events here.
The festival in 2013 was actually the first dark sky festival I had ever attended, so I was pretty unsure of what to expect. From the moment I arrived in Jasper I instantly became a little kid again; full of pure excitement and wonder. The town was full of banners and shops embracing the festival and the dark skies. What made it feel extra special to me, was that everyone wandering around seemed to feel the same excitement I did. Since I was there alone, this made Jasper feel very welcoming.
One of my favorite memories from the festival came from the Lake Annette stargazing event I mentioned earlier. I stood and watched a field full of people all come together and share their excitement for the stars. There was something very special about watching people being introduced to their first look through a telescope. It wasn't just their reaction, but the eagerness to have that experience shared by a total stranger that really hit me. What a wonderful moment that was to be able to watch.
If you've ever been thinking about making the trip to Alberta to see Banff and Jasper National Park, I highly suggest planning it around this festival. Swing by the @travelalberta and @tourismjasper pages to see some of the beautiful views of the parks leading up the festival.
Be sure to check out the video I shot with Travel Alberta during the 2013 festival at the top of the page and some night sky shots of the park on the right!
More info on the festival here: Jasper Dark Sky Fest