Stargazing in Jasper

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I thought I had never seen as many stars in my life–and that was probably true–until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Suddenly, the sky seemingly exploded further and I found myself looking up at a brighter night sky than I ever imagined to be possible and a view too incredible for words. Okay, there were some words, but they only stammered after several gasps and the repetition of “Oh my God, oh my God…” I questioned whether or not it was real.

I was standing in a snowy field in the middle of nowhere, somewhere outside of Jasper, AB. Literally, I have no idea how we got to this spot after a drive down the Parkway and trek up a trail through the darkness, but the experts at Sundog Tours had specifically chosen this location for the future home of their portable observatory for the Dark Sky Interpretation. And, wow–did they ever choose well.

Jasper’s starry night sky puts Van Gogh to shame.

At 11,228 square kilometres, Jasper is home to the world’s second largest Dark Sky Preserve, and the only preserve in Canada with a town wholly within the preserve. Most of Jasper National Park has exceptionally dark skies–the town itself is built to reduce light pollution–but the southern part of the park boasts truly dark skies. This is one of the only areas in southwestern Canada with exceptional darkness, yet is accessible year-round.

The Sundog star-crew gave us some tips on how to better shoot the stars with our cameras, and we set to work.

Settings:  30″ f4 ISO 800-1600, on a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 18-105.

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Playing with lasers.

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This trip was made possible by Jasper Tourism.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 Where have you seen the best stars?

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7 Responses to “Stargazing in Jasper”

  1. Angela (@angelatravels11)
    February 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I never thought about using lasers like that in the snow during night pictures! It looks like a fun way to keep you moving and warm! I enjoyed photographing the northern lights about a year ago and try to take at least one time lapse when I am camping of the stars.
    Angela (@angelatravels11) recently posted..Hiking in Muir Woods

    • Seattle Dredge
      February 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Yeah, neither had I until that moment. I always bring sparklers and glow sticks to do light painting with, but lasers are soooo much better! I bet it’d look awesome with Northern Lights too :]

  2. Sherry Ott
    February 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Love the laser writing! How long did it take you to get the ‘right’ shot for that?!
    Sherry Ott recently posted..Guarding the World

    • Seattle Dredge
      February 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Only 2 tries for #myjasper and one for each of the others! It was too cold to stay still for so long, and Pete wanted a try before we packed up, so I went quick, haha. And, each shot was 30 seconds, so it only took a few minutes 😀

  3. Catherine
    February 12, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Wow, so many stars! It looks like someone just got a bag of glitter and threw it up into the sky! So beautiful 🙂
    Catherine recently posted..24 Things I’ve Learnt In 24 Years

    • Seattle Dredge
      February 12, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      Haha, that may be the best explanation for stars that I’ve ever heard.

      • Kevin Hasson
        February 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

        Love it! A bag of glitter!!
        Thanks again Seattle!

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