Milky Way over Peyto Lake


 

What a night this was! This was the view Sunday night, September 4, from the Peyto Lake viewpoint, of the Milky Way arching overhead, on a clear night at 7,000 feet altitude near the timberline of Bow Summit.

This is one frame of 275 of a time-lapse movie I took of the stars turning over Peyto Lake. This frame catches the Moon just as it sets over Peyto Glacier at left. At this altitude the Milky Way was obvious even with the Moon still in the sky.

It was a scene of a starry night that Bill Peyto would have enjoyed. As he wrote of nearby Bow Lake (see my shot here) … “Around the fire tonight Jim [Jimmy Simpson] said that for his money this campsite was the closest one could get to Heaven on Earth and I reckon he’s not far wrong.”

— Alan, September 5, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer

Big Dipper over Peyto Lake


 

After taking the twilight shots at Waterfowl Lakes on Sunday night (click back to the previous blog), I continued up the Icefields Parkway, ascending to Bow Summit and the viewpoint that overlooks one of the most famous scenes in the Canadian Rockies, Peyto Lake.

Named for legendary mountain man and guide Bill Peyto, the lake was a favourite place for him, to give him solitude away from the madding crowds of Banff.

As with so many of these places, by day this very spot swarms with tourists by the bus load. Peyto would have cringed. But at nightfall, I am the only one there, enjoying the stars coming out in the solitude of the darkening sky.

Here, we look north, to the Big Dipper and Arcturus over the lake in the valley below.

This is a single exposure of 30 seconds at ISO 800 with the Canon 7D and 10-22mm lens.

— Alan, September 5, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer

Twilight at Waterfowl Lakes


 

About half an hour after I took the previous blog entry image, I was here on Sunday evening, farther down the Icefields Parkway, at the shore of Lower Waterfowl Lake. The peak is Mt. Cephren.

The Sun had set and the sky was now filled with the purple glow of twilight marking the beginning of an exceptionally clear night.

Capturing this scene as the eye saw it took a stack of 7 different exposures, combined in what is known as a High Dynamic Range image, that blends the shadows details in the foreground without losing the subtle tints of the bright sky.

— Alan, September 5, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer

Moon over Saskatchewan River Crossing


 

This is how the night started, on Sunday evening, September 4 — as clear a night as you could ask for in the mountains. A quarter Moon hangs over the peaks of the Continental Divide, with alpen glow, the last rays of the Sun, illuminating the mountains around Saskatchewan River Crossing, in Banff.

The North Saskatchewan River flows east out of the mountains here, after being joined by the Mistaya and Howse rivers. It was here, in the early 1800s, that David Thompson and his party of fur traders from the North West Company entered the Rockies and heading up over Howse Pass off frame to the right, to trade with the Kootenays in the interior of what is now British Columbia.

This is David Thompson country, named for one of the world’s greatest geographers and mapmakers. He mapped most of western Canada and down into the Oregon Territory. All using compasses, sextants, a Dolland refractor telescope (to observe the moons of Jupiter for telling time), and his skills as an astronomer. The Kootenays called him Koo-Koo-Sint — the man who watches the stars.

It was also here, on these open river plains, that James Hector, mapping southern Alberta with the Palliser Expedition, observed Comet Donati in September 1858.

This is a place in the Rockies with many ties to history and to astronomy.

— Alan, September 5, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer