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Stargazing in Jasper ranks third, says travel site

You’ll be seeing a lot of stars after dark when you come to Jasper. The world’s second-largest Dark-Sky Preserve ranked third on a travel website’s list of best Canadian stargazing destinations. | Tourism Jasper photo

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

Jasper has ranked as third on a list of the best stargazing destinations in Canada, according to a travel website’s Instagram-based research.

Next Vacay placed Banff National Park at number one, while British Columbia’s Glacier National Park came in second. Jasper, it said, is known for its big blue skies and endless views.

“When the sun goes down, a whole new adventure begins at Jasper National Park,” it reported, according to its study that was emailed to the Fitzhugh

“Pyramid Lake is the best-known stargazing spot within a short drive of the town of Jasper, while Mount Edith Cavell is a prime spot edged closer to the stars.”

It added that the best time to stargaze in Jasper National Park is on crisp, clear winter nights or during a new moon. Next Vacay counted 556,371 stargazing shots on the social media site that were posted using #jaspernationalpark. 

“It’s easy to see why stargazing is increasingly becoming one of the more popular activities in this tourist hotspot,” the report added.

Jasper’s count still comes in at less than half of the Instagram photos for #banffnationalpark at 1,183,143.

Next Vacay looked at all of Canada’s national parks to find the best places to stargaze by searching Instagram hashtags while taking into consideration air pollution levels, star visibility and other parameters when making their list.

Four out of the top 10 stargazing spots were in Alberta, three of which were in the mountains including Waterton Lakes National Park. The only spot elsewhere in the province was Elk Island National Park, another dark-sky preserve just as Jasper National Park is.

A dark-sky preserve is a protected area that commits extra measures to protect and preserve the darkness by reducing or eliminating light pollution in all forms. Parks Canada stated that it protects more dark skies than any other agency or jurisdiction in the world. 

According to Parks Canada’s website, dark-sky viewing tips include checking the weather before heading out, taking along a star chart (or downloading a stargazing app to your device) and bringing a pair of binoculars or telescope. 

Some celestial sights can be seen by the naked eye, such as the Perseid Meteor Shower this week. It is anticipated that the peak viewing will be on the very late night of Friday, Aug. 12 to the very early morning on Saturday, Aug. 13, according to Tourism Jasper’s website found at jasperdarksky.travel. The full moon also occurs on that night so it is “recommended that you set an alarm just before the moon sets around 4 a.m.,” the site says.

Stargazing tourism has seen a boom in recent years, says Naveen Dittakavi, co-founder of Next Vacay along with his wife Shaylee.

“People have been amazed by the stars since the beginning of humankind, so it’s no surprise that we have seen demand for stargazing soar in the past year,” he said.

“A whole new world opens up at night, and there’s something magical about these celestial beings that bring a sense of calm, and help you put life into perspective.”

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