The Darkest Dark Sky Preserve in Canada
Grasslands National Park of Canada, a protected place of national significance, inspires discovery of its unique prairie species and ecosystems, captivating viewscapes and the amazing adaptations of plants, animals and people to its challenging environment. During the International Year of Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada declared Grasslands National Park a Dark Sky Preserve (2009). The vast open landscape of the West and East Block covering over 729 square kilometres, holds above it Canada’s darkest Dark Sky Preserve.
The stars of the Milky Way shine bright over the grasslands.
© Mark Windsor
The Aurora Borealis dances above the grasslands.
© Mark Windsor
Preserving the dark sky will also preserve the billion-year old natural day-night cycle for the flora and fauna of the park, preserving healthy natural hunting, foraging and reproductive behaviors. All wildlife from insects to mammals require both daylight and darkness for normal biological functioning. Natural cycles of light and temperature are required for wildlife to navigate, migrate and even to mate. Native prairie plants are well adapted to natural light cycles. They depend on light cues for germination and normal functioning.
Ways you can promote responsible lighting:
- Direct outdoor home lights downward
- Turn off lights when not in use
- Use low wattage lights
- Use dimmer controls and timers where possible
- Think better light, not more light
Dark Sky Viewing Tips:
- Check the weather before heading out.
- Take along a star chart or download a star gazing app, and a pair of binoculars, or telescope.
- Use red cellophane over your flashlight. Red light is less obtrusive than traditional white light, and helps to retain your night vision.
- Two Trees Trail, Frenchman Valley Campground, and Rock Creek Campground are great, car-accessible stargazing locations.
- Watch out for bison, rattlesnakes, and rugged terrain.
- Stargaze near your vehicle. Walking distances at night can be difficult.