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Guide to Stargazing in and around Edmonton

Guide To Stargazing In And Around

The sky isn’t the limit when it comes to exploration in Edmonton! 

You see, the city’s clear skies and expansive dark sky destinations make it ideal for astronomical and celestial observations. 

Want to take the front-row seats in this stellar exploration? Here’s our guide to stargazing in Edmonton. 

The Best Places to Go Stargazing in and around Edmonton

1. Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area

Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area
Image Source: Space Tourism Guide 
Address52365 Range Rd 210, Sherwood Park, AB T8G 1A6, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Sunday 7 AM - 11 PM

The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area is one of the most popular dark sites in the city. 

The sanctuary maintains a nocturnal environment, so there’s less artificial light in the area. Due to that, the site is ideal if you plan to go stargazing or want to spot nocturnal animals. 

RASC Edmonton Centre’s members frequently visit this site because it’s easily accessible and has no entrance fee. 

The forested area near the cattle guard is where people camp together with their telescopes to watch the stars and witness meteor showers. 

If you’re searching for an array of fun and free things to do in Edmonton, you can include this in your list. Just remember that the site closes at 11 PM, so it’s not ideal if you plan to go for late-night stargazing. 

2. Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve

Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve
Image Source: Travel Alberta
AddressUncas, AB T8G 2C8, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Sunday Open 24 hours

The Beaver Hills Dark-Sky Preserve was built in 2006 as part of the Beaver Hills UNESCO Biosphere. 

This project aims to focus on the conservation of the distinct geographic locations and landscape in the area to achieve sustainable economic development. 

The preserve decreases the artificial light in the area, so the night sky and the stars are visible when you visit. 

Moreover, this dark sky site is open 24 hours a day, so you can reserve a campsite with your friends and enjoy the starry night while munching on some s’mores. 

You can access the designated viewing areas of this dark sky preserve in Elk Island National Park and Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. 

It also hosts the Milky Way Day every year, showcasing events where you can catch a glimpse of the galaxies, planets, stars, and even the elusive aurora borealis

3. RASC Observatory 

RASC Observatory
Image Source: RASC Edmonton Centre
Address13564-, 13598 111 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5M 4A1, Canada
Operating HoursFriday 7 PM - 10 PM

Saturday - Sunday 1 PM - 4 PM, 7 PM -10 PM

RASC Observatory is established by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. It is a national and non-profit organization operating numerous observatories nationwide. 

If you are passionate about the stars and celestial phenomena, you can make a simple contribution by joining this organization. The RASC membership is open to everyone interested in astronomy, and you can be an unattached member. 

Nonetheless, if you just want to visit, remember that the openings are dependent upon the sky and weather conditions. For this reason, there can be changes in their normal business hours. 

Here is their current schedule for solar and evening observation. 

  • Monday – Saturday 1:15 PM to 4:45 PM (Solar Observing)
  • Friday and Saturday 8:15 PM to 11:45 PM (Evening Observing)

There is no fee to enter this observatory, so it’s more convenient for thrifty locals and tourists. 

Besides that, the site is also equipped with robotic telescopes. Through this, you can optimally view astronomical phenomena such as solar and lunar eclipses, shadow transits of Jupiter’s moons, Iridium satellite flares, and more. 

4. Bon Accord 

Bon Accord
Image Source: International Dark-Sky Association 
AddressAround 53 Avenue and 54 Avenue
Operating HoursMonday - Sunday Open 24 hours

Bon Accord is a quaint town in the north of downtown Edmonton. It’s not like any other town in the country because its residents are seeking the designation to pass a bylaw to reduce light pollution in their area. 

The locals’ efforts gradually changed the town because they adapted to the artificial light limit entailed by dark sky preserves. 

There are limited light sources in the area, so the dome of light that causes light pollution is greatly reduced. 

This dark sky community attracts many stargazers from all over Canada because it offers an excellent night sky experience. Visit Bon Accord on a clear night to seek out various constellations and planets. 

5. Hesje Observatory

Hesje Observatory
Image Source: Troy Media 
AddressTownship Rd 493A, Kingman, AB T0B 2M0, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Sunday (open observing times may vary)

The Hesje Observatory was opened in May 2022, and it’s situated at the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station. On this site, you can have unobstructed views of the city’s skyline. 

It’s an ideal spot for stargazing because it has an observation deck with portable telescopes. Some of the telescopes are permanently mounted, while others can be used for taking clear and crisp pictures of the constellations and stars. 

Another good thing about this dark sky preserve is that it is open for drop-in observation on clear nights. Just note that there’s a fee to enter the observatory, and it’s $15 per person. 

Alternatively, if you plan to bring your date here, you can opt for an in-person stargazing and astronomy program. Through this, you can have two hours of uninterrupted time at the observatory. 

6. Lakeland Provincial Park 

Lakeland Provincial Park
Image Source: My Wandering Voyage
Address9503 Beaverhill Rd, Lac la Biche, AB T0A 2C0, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Friday 8:15 AM - 4:30 PM

Lakeland Provincial Park is one of the official dark sky preserves in Alberta. It’s set inside Alberta Park, which is an internationally recognized park because of its ecological sites for important bird species. 

This dark sky preserve has five observing sites that are accessible by vehicles. 

We recommend this place for people who want to take a nature trip for the whole day. 

You see, it’s where the lake canoe circuit of Alberta is located, so you can easily explore Jackson Lake, Kinnaird Lake, McGuffin Lake, and Blackett Lake. 

Aside from that, they also conduct nighttime tours to support various outreach events. 

If you decide to stay for the night, you can also set up a camp along the shore or make a reservation at one of their 21 back-country campsites. 

7. Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve
Image Source: Travel Alberta
AddressJasper, AB T0E 1E0, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Sunday Open 24 hours

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve. Many tourists prefer to explore this dark sky preserve because it’s easily accessible. 

You see, since a town is set within the limits of the dark sky site, you don’t have to sacrifice the convenience of a comfortable bed and nearby provisions while stargazing. 

Visiting on a moonless night is recommended. It is because, during that time, you can appreciate the black expanse of the sky dusted with sprinkles of millions of stars. 

However, since this site is over 11,000 square kilometers (4,247 square miles), it’s advantageous to know the ideal spots to explore. Here are some of them. 

  • Medicine Lake 
  • Lake Annette
  • Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Lake Island 
  • Lac Beauvert 
  • Maligne Canyon
  • Maligne Lake
  • Athabasca Falls  
  • Mount Edith Cavell 
  • Columbia Icefields
  • Tonquin Valley 

October is the ideal month to visit this dark sky site because this is the month they celebrate the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival. 

In this event, you’ll be able to go on a telescope tour, witness an interactive show at The Jasper Planetarium, try the augmented-reality telescope application, catch the northern lights, and more.

8. Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve 

Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve
Image Source: Parks Canada 
Address149 McDougal Road, Fort Smith, NT, Canada
Operating HoursMonday - Friday 9 AM - 5 PM

Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve is definitely not the least of all the dark sky sites because it’s the largest of them all. 

In fact, this dark sky preserve is the largest one on the globe, with an area of approximately 44,741 square kilometers (17,274 square miles). 

That’s why this site can be one of your best options if you want to get away from it all and get lost in the wonder of the starry skies during summer

This dark sky preserve’s main astronomical observing site is nestled at Pine Lake. It has an expansive open-air observing circle where groups and families can go stargazing. 

The site is also equipped with magnum-grade telescopes, so you can really peek through the skyscape and snag a lot of magnificent pictures. 

Make sure to bring the right clothes, camera, and gear because you might have to wait a long time to witness the stellar Aurora Borealis. 

Here are the best spots in Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way. 

  • Dark Sky Circle at Pine Lake
  • Salt River 
  • Salt Plains

Nonetheless, if you plan to stay for the night and need accommodation nearby, you can book a room at the rustic log cabins near Pine Lake. 

FAQ About Stargazing in Edmonton