Darkness is disappearing. We don’t mean that as some sort of good-over-evil metaphor; nighttime is literally fading away in much of the world. Light pollution—defined as an excessive use of artificial light causing serious environmental consequences—has increased as civilization has grown and is gradually making starlit skies a thing of the past.
Dark Sky Preserves aim to reverse, or at the very least slow the trend. Jasper National Park was designated a dark sky preserve in 2011 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
HOW DO DARK SKY PRESERVES HELP?
By limiting or eliminating outdoor artificial lighting, these protected areas preserve the night sky, which is important for the health of many human and animal biological systems. The three different types of light pollution (glare, light trespass and skyglow) can disrupt the rhythms of nocturnal wildlife, confuse migratory patterns, alter predator-prey relations, and other kinds of ecological harm.
Most nighttime outdoor lighting set-ups are inefficient; they cast beams that are overly bright and poorly targeted, meaning that much the light spills uselessly skyward rather than focusing on the actual objects and areas that people want illuminated. Dark Sky Preserves use a variety of methods to combat this problem. Jasper has made a special commitment to protect and preserve the night sky and to reduce or eliminate light pollution in all its forms.
Dark Sky Preserves also actively work to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities. The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is a big part of that work. The 2020 Festival is happening October 16-25.