RASC at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival

This year’s Jasper Dark Sky Festival was bigger than ever, with more days and evenings of observing, and lots of talks by famous people such as Jay Ingram and Chris Hadfield. In past years, the Dark Sky Festival has included evening observing sessions on the Friday and Saturday evenings, and solar observing and public lectures on the Saturday afternoon. Since there was a partial solar eclipse taking place on the Thursday afternoon, the event was extended to include the eclipse. I remained in Edmonton for the eclipse, where we had an excellent clear sky, and great view of the eclipse including the very memorable monster sunspot group. Many Edmonton RASCals were in Jasper for the eclipse. They also had very good weather in Jasper and were able to view most of the eclipse.

I drove out to Jasper on Friday in time to set up my telescope at Lake Annette. The evening started out cloudy, so we were at first just getting quick holes in the cloud showing bits of the Summer Triangle. But as the evening progressed, the sky cleared very nicely.

Saturday was totally overcast, so the main highlights were the talks by the speakers in the afternoon, and a rocket launch started by Chris Hadfield. Later on in the evening there were lectures by Jay Ingram and Chris Hadfield with musical accompaniment. I was able to stay for the first half hour of Jay Ingram’s presentation, which was a musical history of space flight. It was pretty cool. I snuck out of the  performance and then drove out to Pyramid island to help out with the Starlight Adventure. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy, so we didn’t set up telescopes. However, an artist had set up an interesting LED art.

This was an excellent event. The visitors had a good time, and got to look through many telescopes (on Thursday and Friday) and also experienced fun activities and presentations. I’d like to thank Ross Sinclair for putting in the hard work to organize the astronomy side of this event, which was well organized and lots of fun!

Sharon Morsink