Aside from being the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada is also the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve, covering an expansive 11,228 square kilometer view of the stars.
Established in 1907 as Jasper Forest Park, Jasper National Park covers 10,878 square kilometers of measured area topography, gaining its national park status in 1930 in conjunction with the National Parks Act. It was named after Jasper Hawes, who operated a trading post for the North West Company in the area.
The Alberta-based national park attained its Dark Sky Preserve status on March 2011 - a status bequeathed by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - and has since been the center of different astronomy and astrology-inclined celebrations and festivals, including the annually celebrated Jasper National Park Dark Sky Festival.
As Dark Sky Preserves come, Jasper National Park is strict in the use of artificial lighting, given that Dark Sky Preserves are set on promoting the study and practice of astronomy and other related disciplines, as well as active forerunners in protecting the habitats and natural environments of nocturnal wildlife.
As a Dark Sky Preserve, Jasper National Park rates a 1-2 score in the Bortle Scale, the nine-tiered numerical measurement system used in quantifying the astronomical observability of celestial bodies in specified areas/vantage points. The park’s 1-2 Bortle Scale rating defines it as an excellent dark-sky site, with airglows readily visible and Zodiac lights breathtakingly easy to spot.
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A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, Jasper National Park is one of the few places in the world where nature’s wonders are at their prime, with breathtaking sights to be seen during the day, with the wonders of the stars to be experienced at night.