The First Annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival took place on Oct 21-24, 2011. Weather permitting, star gazing is possible at several locations in Jasper National Park, such as easily accessible Pyramid Lake Island / Mountain right in the town of Jasper, Athabasca Falls, and Sunwapta Falls. Columbia Icefield is one of my favourites. I’ve been there on September 23 (one lunar month prior), so I know it’s possible to see milky way there. Plus the milky way is directly above the glaicers. So you get milky way and glacier two in one shot! :D Jasper National Park is designated as the World’s Largest Dark Sky Preserve.
Columbia Icefield is another great area along Icefield Parkways to view Milky Way in Jasper National Park. Its special location offers a very wide open space to view a long impressive milky way stretching across the nightly sky. However, there are two things to bear in mind:
- It is very windy most of the time, making long exposure photography very difficult. If you want to include people in the photo, like I do, it is very challenging for anyone to stand still under blowing wind.
- Glacier View Inn (the only building in Columbia Icefield) is in front of the glaciers. The hotel light may weaken the starlight a bit, but overall it is not bad. In fact, depending on where you stand relative to the hotel, the hotel light helps illuminate the glaciers in the background as well as a person’s face in low-light photography.
Other star gazing locations within Jasper National Park include: Milky Way at Pyramid Lake/Island/Mountain, Milky Way in front of Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls Milky Way, and of course Milky Way Over Columbia Icefield.
Exact location of Columbia Icefield is indicated by Green Arrow on the following map (click EXTERNAL LINK below to view map).