Milky Way over Waterton Lakes National Park © Wally Pacholka / AstroPics.com
The Dark Sky
The night sky surrounds every living thing in this universe, its darkness and beauty is shared by all.
Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park in the United States are in pursuit of Dark Sky Preserve designation.
Waterton and Glacier national parks already share a boundary and three joint international designations: International Peace Park, Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Now the two parks are working on a fourth designation: International Dark Sky Park / Preserve. This joint effort regognizes the very dark skies found at the two parks and makes a commitment to protecting and preserving these high-quality conditions.
Dark Sky Preserve status would mean that the parks - and their communities - are reducing the amount of light that is sent up into the sky at night. This makes them a perfect place to stargaze!
Where to look
Check out these staff favourites for some great dark-sky viewing:
- Cameron Bay - located at the south end of Evergreen Avenue, within walking distance of town.
- Red Rock Parkway - stop at any one of the pullouts to see where the mountains meet the priaire and the sky.
- Cameron Lake - this is one of the darkest places in the park. Try laying on the dock for the ultimate full-sky view.
- The Bison Paddock - this spot, just before you leave the park on Hwy 6, offers the chance to see the prairie sky in all its glory.
What Can I See?
The Moon - craters and mountains on the surface can be easily seen with binoculars.
Planets - many of the planets are visible in the sky throughout the year. Be sure to look for Jupiter's moons - there are four!
Constellations - there are over 80 officially recognized constellations. Start by looking for the seven bright stars of the Big Dipper.
The Milky Way - our home galaxy, the Milky Way stretches across the sky like a vast river of stars and can be easily seen with the naked eye.
Don't have a fancy telescope or an astronomy degree? Don't worry - a few basic items are all you need.
Night Sky Viewing Kit:
- A star chart and/or a planisphere
Star chart download / planisphere download
- A red light for reading your chart (optional)
- A blanket or sleeping bag
- Warm jacket, hat, gloves
- A sense of wonder
For more information:
Call (403-859-2224) or email Waterton Lakes National Park.