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Canada’s Huge Dark Sky Festival Looks Absolutely Breathtaking

Calling all stargazers.

Consider yourself a serious stargazer? Time to head to the Great White North for some of the most spectacular night sky views you’re likely to see in your lifetime.

Taking place annually in Alberta, the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, which just wrapped up for the year, takes place in an area that’s almost devoid of light pollution – the thing that makes stars to hard to observe in cities and populated areas. This means you can see the night sky how nature intended – with uninterrupted depth.

A man meets the Milky Way in Jasper National Park

Meeting the milky way over Jasper Lake. Photo: Ryan Bray

Alberta is home to two of the world’s largest ‘dark sky preserves’ (locations where you can see the Milky Way in all its glory): Wood Buffalo and Jasper National Park. The area also offers prime viewing of the shimmering Northern Lights.

Aurora in Alberta

Waiting for a mate.

The festival had a whole slew of events for night sky nerds and astronomy enthusiasts, with stargazing tours with astronomers, excursions to glaciers, and nighttime photography workshops on offer. The festival also featured talks from known intergalactic geniuses Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and George Takei.

Watch the captivating timelapse video of the Northern Lights, taken at the festival, in action below.

Thinking about biting the bullet and making the trip north to get a slice of that clear night sky? You can take in the Milky Way in Alberta any time of the year. Other activities in the area include a starlit snowshoe jaunt and a full-moon fondue tour in Kananaskis during the winter months. That’s right; cast your imagination to a private cheese-laden party lit up by the moon, the stars and the glowing Northern Lights. Dreamy as.

Once recovered from cheese-fuelled adventures, travellers have the option to strap on cleats and explore the icy Maligne Canyon by moonlight.

Me posing in the night at Reesor Lake, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, with the Milky Way over the misty lake. A single 30-second untracked exposure (not a composite) with the 24mm lens at f/2 and Canon 5D MkII at ISO 3200.

Those with a need for respite from the chilly temperatures are able to take solace in one of Jasper’s dome-shaped planetarium theatres for interactive, indoor stargazing. 

Canada’s first ‘dark sky’ community, Bon Accord, Alberta, is also nearby and ripe for visiting. This small town is only the 11th in the world to receive this distinction.

Star light, star bright, should you book a trip to Canada tonight? Absolutely.

(Lead image: Ryan Bray/supplied)