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Northern Lights & Dark Skies Nature & Wildlife

Imagine looking up and seeing a wisp of neon green uncurl slowly across the Canadian night sky. The apparition is soon joined by others and together they grow into a bright, pulsating chorus of multi-colored light, waving, melting away and then forming anew. The aurora borealis is one of the most surreal natural phenomena on earth. Optimal viewing is September through mid-May in northern Alberta and in dark skies around the province. Lucky us – we have the world's two largest dark-sky preserves: Wood Buffalo and Jasper national parks.
Northern Lights over Athabasca River
Northern lights Cold Lake
Northern Lights viewing on Cold Lake

Northern Light & Dark Sky Preserve Options

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Cypress Hills Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve

Elkwater, Alberta

Due to its high elevation and lack of urban light pollution, Cypress Hills was the first designated Dark Sky Preserve in Alberta. Every August the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada holds a Summer Star Party that's considered to be one of the largest stargazing events in the country. The park also offers a variety of camping options, so cozy up by the campfire and gaze in wonder at the starlit sky. If the conditions are right, you may even see the Northern Lights.

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Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper, Alberta

Due to it's vast size and location, the 11,000 sq km (4,247 mi) Jasper National Park is considered to be the world's largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve. It's also one of best places to stargaze in the Canadian Rockies. Every October the park holds a Dark Sky Festival that includes both free and ticketed events and workshops. You can learn about the constellations, listen to aboriginal songs and stories and even pick up some tips for photographing the spectacular starlit sky.

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Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

This 300 sq km (116 sq mi) dark sky preserve, just east of Edmonton, encompasses Elk Island National Park and neighboring Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. By reducing artificial light, the preserve increases the visibility of the night sky. Whether you stargaze around the campfire or attend the preserve's annual Star Party in September, you'll find that the night sky shines brighter in Beaver Hills.

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Travel Offers

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3-Day Northern Lights Excursion

The aurora borealis is a breathtaking wonder with universal appeal. Northern Lights Outdoor Excursions provides visitors with the ideal way to make this the experience of a lifetime! This 3 day/2 night package includes two viewings of the aurora borealis in Fort McMurray.

Expires: 2017-08-31
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Jasper Planetarium and Stargazing

Explore stars, planets, galaxies and more in the world’s largest accessible astronomy park. Daily Planetarium and telescope stargazing programs provide an incredible opportunity to observe the wonders above Jasper National Park, rain or shine.

Expires: 2017-09-15
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Tours

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SunDog Tour Co.

Jasper, Alberta
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Providing memorable sightseeing, activity and transportation services. From daily sightseeing excursions, to group tours, to airport shuttles, to coach touring and conference services, our staff of holiday planners specialize in making your time in the mountains unforgettable.

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Lens on Nature

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Lens on Nature’s mission is to enable our guests the opportunity to immerse themselves and experience the remote beauty, history and culture of Fort Chipewyan, one of Alberta’s most isolated and northern communities. We offer carefully created, professionally guided three day adventures which include travelling a 280 km (174 mi) road made entirely of snow and ice to Fort Chipewyan, dog sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, historical tours and a chance of seeing aurora borealis. With each trip, guests receive a collection of inspiring images in a professionally designed hard cover book that captures the sense of authenticity of their adventure.

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Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures

Banff, Alberta
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Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures is a Banff based, locally operated business offering custom designed tours, workshops and seminars in Banff National Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We are knowledgeable and super enthusiastic about developing your photography skills and enjoyment of our amazing scenery in this world-class travel photography destination. We are passionate about the wider photography community and actively engage in educational, environmental and wildlife events and projects, both independently and through partnerships. Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures is a proud sponsor of the iconic Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

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Events

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Jasper SkyTram Star Sessions

Jasper, Alberta
2017-09-08 to 2017-09-09 MST | Show All Dates

Blast off with astronomy experts from The Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience atop the Jasper Skytram. Your SkyTram flight will take you nearly 1 km closer to the stars above, to the Skytram Upper Station, where you'll have the chance to look through the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies, under the darkest skies in the Rockies. Join a guided tour of the Solar System, learning about planets, galaxies, and constellations, and if you're lucky, you might even see a meteor or the Northern Lights! You'll also have a chance to attend a special talk on Canada's dark skies or a quick workshop about how to photograph objects in the night sky with your DSLR camera. Cost Includes return Skytram Flight, 2 Course Meal, and Star Gazing Experience.

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Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Star Party

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
2017-09-02 to 2017-09-03 MST

A celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation only continues with this star-filled event. Canada has always been a land of vibrant skyscapes and Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve works to keep Elk Island skies naturally dark, wild and alive. Come enjoy this event, like all days in 2017, with free park entrance to Elk Island. Taking place over two days at two different locations, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve’s 12th annual Star Party will be your gateway to the stars. Featuring volunteer astronomers to provide you with stargazing tips, guest speakers to cause you to marvel at the sky, and local musical performances to fill the air with festive spirit, this 2 day event will keep your whole family entertained. The Star Party will be at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park on Saturday Sept. 2 and at Elk Island National Park on Sunday Sept 3, 2017.

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Jasper Dark Sky Festival

Jasper, Alberta
2017-10-13 to 2017-10-22 MST

In 2011, Jasper was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, due to its limited light pollution that creates ideal conditions for dark sky viewing. The Jasper Dark Sky Festival began with the goal of celebrating and preserving this status. At 11,000 square kilometers, Jasper National Park is considered to be the world’s largest accessible Dark Sky Preserves.From October 13-22, 2017, Jasper's Dark Sky Festival invites astronomers at every level to gaze upon the wonder of one of the world's largest dark sky preserves. As daylight hours begin to recede, October is the ideal time to celebrate the skies with the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival presented by Rocky Mountaineer, an ever-growing festival aimed at connecting all ages to our universe and beyond.Power Down. Look up.2017 Headliners:Brian Cox, Phil Plait, Bob McDonald, Natalie Panek, Rob Thacker, John Rennie and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings

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