Dec. 4, 2017

Exploring the Universe with the Jasper Planetarium

Since 2015, the Jasper Planetarium has been feeding the curious minds of Rocky Mountain stargazers with knowledge and information through special events, digital planetarium tours, and guided telescope viewing opportunities.

Now, the planetarium is expanding in order to accommodate the increasing number of visitors looking to gaze out into Jasper’s night sky. 

Under an air-supported dome theatre, Peter McMahon, resident astronomer and manager of the Jasper Planetarium, takes visitors on a journey through Jasper’s lakes, canyons, glaciers and mountain tops – all while uncovering the mysteries of meteor showers, northern lights and Canadian aboriginal constellations.

To accommodate the planetarium’s increase in visitors, Peter and his team purchased a newer, larger dome anticipated to be ready to welcome stargazers by the end of November 2018 that gives visitors a fully immersive celestial experience.

“Right now we have capacity for 24 people, and in the new dome we can fit about 35-50 seats” says Peter, “The larger the dome, the more realistic the experience. It feels even more like you’re outside with the stars and flying through space in a spaceship.”

Along with introducing a new dome, the Jasper Planetarium is also partnering with the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge to offer a telescope and planetarium experience to explorers interested in venturing beyond the town limits to look at the stars.

“The new dome is going to be set up with a new package with the Fairmont” says Peter, “There’s a warming station, an authentic first nations tipi, s’mores, hot chocolate and an astro-photography session.”

Image Credit: Ryan Bray

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Image Credit: Jeff Bartlet

Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival celebrates the designation of Jasper National Park as a Dark Sky Preserve, and became the first step to introducing astronomy and stargazing activities to Jasper’s community and visitors. Over the years, Peter had noticed that an increasing number of visitors were keen to learn as much as possible about the stars and constellations lighting up the night sky.

“It turned from this quaint little nerd thing into a big deal in Jasper” says Peter. “It’s something that a lot of folks are taking note of, and Jasper is doing well and distinguishing itself.”

As Peter saw the increased curiosity for year-round dark sky activities, he realized that Jasper was the perfect place to start a planetarium. Since its inception in 2015, the Jasper Planetarium has now become one of the most popular attractions for visitors who are looking to learn about Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve.

For more information on the Jasper Planetarium, please visit:

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