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What Is Dark Sky?

On March 26, 2011 the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) officially designated Jasper National Park a Dark Sky Preserve (DSP).

Encompassing over 11,000 km2, Jasper National Park became one of the world’s largest preserves and the only one with a town wholly within it.

A star gazing playground, this official status of DSP gives Jasper the responsibility of protecting and promoting the nocturnal environment and clarity of the dark skies. It also means supporting and encouraging public understanding of this natural wonder by creating activities and events to commemorate this natural phenomenon

Celebrating this designation, Jasper in October is defined by the Dark Sky. With a list of events for everyone young and old, technically gifted in astronomy and those that simply appreciate beauty, there’s something in the night sky for everyone.


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Five stars? Are you kidding? We’ve got five billion!
2014 "Stars" of the Show
  • Chris Hadfield

    Astronaut | First Canadian Commander of the International Space Station (2013)

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    “Good morning, Earth!” That is how Colonel Chris Hadfield--writing on Twitter--woke up the world every day while living for five months aboard the International Space Station. Through his 21-years as an astronaut and three spaceflights, Colonel Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation, harnessing the power of social media to make outer space accessible to millions and infusing a sense of wonder into our collective consciousness not felt since humanity first walked on the Moon. Called “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Hadfield continues to bring the marvels of science and space travel to everyone he encounters.

    Colonel Hadfield is a pioneer of many historic “firsts”. In 1992 he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency as a NASA Mission Specialist--Canada’s first fully-qualified Space Shuttle crew member. Three years later, aboard Shuttle Atlantis, he was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in space, and the first Canadian to board a Russian spacecraft as he helped build space station “Mir.” In 2001, aboard Shuttle Endeavour, Colonel Hadfield performed two spacewalks--the first Canadian to do so--and in 2013, he was Commander of the International Space Station--the first and only Canadian to ever command a spaceship, so far.

    During his multi-faceted career, Colonel Hadfield has intercepted Soviet bombers in Canadian airspace, lived on the ocean floor, been NASA’s Director of Operations in Russia, and recorded science and music videos seen by hundreds of millions.

    A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Colonel Hadfield’s many awards include receiving the Order of Ontario, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He was named the Top Test Pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy, and has been inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. He is the author of the internationally bestselling book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, and has been commemorated on Canadian postage stamps, Royal Canadian Mint silver and gold coins, and on Canada’s newest five dollar bill (along with fellow astronauts Steve MacLean and Dave Williams).


  • Jay Ingram

    Science Writer & Former Host of Discovery Channel's Daily Planet

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    Jay Ingram has been a science writer/broadcaster for forty years. He began by teaching a biology course on the radio in Toronto before moving to the CBC, presenting science stories on the national show Morningside through the late 1970s. Jay then became host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks in 1979 and continued in that role until 1992. During that time he won two ACTRA awards, one for best host, and several Canadian Science Writers’ awards . In January 1995 he became host of Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet and continued in that position until June, 2011.  Jay has also written twelve books  - which have been translated into twelve languages - and is just finishing another.

    Most recently he has turned his attention to the public presentation of science:  he is the Chair of the Banff Science Communications program, co-founder of the new arts/engineering collaboration called Beakerhead and was a member of the Council of Canadian Academies panel on science culture.  He has received many awards:  the Sandford Fleming medal from the Royal Canadian Institute, the Royal Society’s McNeil medal for the Public Awareness of Science and the Michael Smith award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Alberta, has received five honorary doctorates, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and is a member of the Order of Canada.

  • Paul Zizka

    Award-winning Rocky Mountain Photographer

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    Paul Zizka is a professional mountain photographer based in Banff. Paul has a passion for documenting the interplay of light and weather in the mountains, shooting alpine endeavours, unique international locations, and capturing the spirit of adventure.

    Paul’s award-winning work has been featured in a variety of publications, including The Guardian, Reader’s Digest and Canadian Geographic. His commercial clients, such as Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Parks Canada, depend on his photography to bring the park system to the world. Paul's first photography book, Summits and Starlight: The Canadian Rockies, hit the shelves in October 2013. See more of his work online at or follow along on Facebook.

  • Frank Florian

    Vice President, Science at Telus World of Science Edmonton

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    Frank Florian directs a team of 20 scientists and educators who lead the school, public and exhibit experiences at the science centre. A skilled presenter, Florian is a regular guest on Edmonton television and radio shows. He appears often on the Edmonton affiliates for CBC, CTV and Global as he is an accessible expert for astronomical or space events. Florian is a current member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Edmonton Centre, and the Canadian Association of Rocketry and holds a license as an amateur radio operator, VE6FJF. Florian earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Alberta, with a focus on nuclear and astrophysics as well as a Bachelor of Education degree specializing in secondary education, with a major in the physical sciences and mathematics.

    Connect with the Telus World of Science Edmonton:

  • Peter McMahon

    Wilderness Astronomer & SkyNews Contributing Editor

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    Peter has fast become one of Canada's most prominent science popularizers, writing stories for magazines including Reader's Digest, Canadian Geographic, Air Canada’s enRoute, Frommer’s, Today's Parent, OWL, Sky & Telescope and SkyNews: The Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing, where he writes the “Wilderness Astronomer” column and serves as a contributing editor.  

    Peter has served as astronomy-writer-in-residence in Jasper (whose dark sky designation he suggested) since 2011 and in Wood Buffalo National Park since 2014.


  • Chris Beckett

    Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, National Observing Chair

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    Chris Beckett has been stargazing since early childhood and involved in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for almost 2-decades. He is currently the President of Regina Centre, the National Observing Chair for the entire organization and a Partner of Grasslands National Park Dark Sky Preserve. Originally a maritimer Chris moved to Regina in 2009 where he has taught 8 astronomy and stargazing classes at the University of Regina and coordinated hundreds of events during this time reaching more than 100,000 individuals. He is currently study how Public Policy can improve astronomy outreach as part of his Master’s degree.

  • Wilfred Buck

    Ininew (Cree) Aboriginal Story Teller

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    Wilfred Buck is an Ininew (Cree), originally for Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. He has a B.Ed. and Post Bacc. in Education from the University of Manitoba. Wilfred is a husband and father of four (2 boys-2 girls). He works for the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre which administers 55 locally controlled, band operated schools in Manitoba. He is mandated to put the sciences into a First Nations perspective but is also a sweat lodge keeper, story teller, pipe-carrier, name-giver/finder, singer, pipe-maker, dream-interpreter, healer and Sun Dance Chief. Wilfred walks in two worlds.

  • Alan Dyer

    Astronomy Author & Photographer

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    Alan Dyer is one of Canada's best known astronomy authors and photographers, serving as associate editor of SkyNews magazine and contributing editor to Sky and Telescope. He is coauthor of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. For many years he produced planetarium shows for the science centres in Edmonton and Calgary. He enjoys photographing the night sky from Alberta and from around the world, and has chased total solar eclipses on six continents. Asteroid #78434 is named for him. 

  • Sherrilyn Jahrig

    Tangent Arts Owner & Operator

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    Sherrilyn Jahrig is the director of Tangent Arts; Dark Sky Preserve coordinator for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Edmonton; coordinator for the Alberta Science Network Edmonton area; and an Observatory astronomer at TELUS World of Science Edmonton.

    Committed to improving the night-time environment and determined to connect people from all walks of life with their heritage of starlit skies, Sherrilyn has worked with many teams to preserve dark skies in Edmonton and around the world. As a professional musician and writer as well as a lover of nature, Sherrilyn has been inspired by the stars to create and direct multidisciplinary performances and festivals in Edmonton and beyond, including fifteen major star parties. The thrill of listening to voices under pristinely dark skies discovering the depth and awesomeness of our universe has resulted in her current project: the exhilarating blend of science and art at the Pyramid Island Starlight Adventure.

  • Joan Marie Galat

    Award-Winning Author

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    Joan Marie Galat is an award-winning author of books for children and adults. She combines astronomy with ancient mythology in the Dot to Dot in the Sky series. Her newest title is Dark Matters—Nature’s reaction to light pollution.

    Joan operates MoonDot Media, offering writing, editing, training, and public speaking. When not looking at the stars, Joan’s trying to reach them. Look for her on stilts at various Alberta events.


  • Brian Ventrudo

    Astronomy Educator

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    Brian Ventrudo is a stargazer, scientist, and astronomy educator.  During a twenty-year scientific career, he developed laser systems to detect molecules found in interstellar space and planetary atmospheres, and leveraged this expertise to create technology for fiber-optic communications networks. Since 2008, Brian has taught astronomy to more than 35,000 international subscribers through his website One-Minute Astronomer. He holds a master’s degree in astronomy from Western University and a doctorate in engineering physics from McMaster University.

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