Standing Under the Stars at Grasslands Park


Grasslands National Park is one of the finest places in Canada to revel in the dark night sky.

This was the scene last night, in far south Saskatchewan, under clear and super dark night skies, at long last after a week of rain, wind and wintery cold.

I’m at Grasslands National Park south of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, to shoot night sky panoramas in what must rank as Canada’s darkest Dark Sky Preserve.

The park itself is new, created only a decade and half ago. It preserves original prairie grasses and is home to unique and rare species. Bison roam here, allowing you to travel back to pre-European times as you gaze out onto a landscape much as it was for thousands of years.

But look up at night and you can gaze at a sky as it was seen for thousands of years, mostly unblemished by the artificial glows of light pollution. Grasslands National Park is a “dark sky preserve,” allowing visitors to see the stars and Milky Way as they should be seen.

I shot this 360° panorama from the Eagle Butte Loop Trail just inside the boundary of the Park. The main hill is 70 Mile Butte, a landmark to the early NorthWest Mounted Police as it lay 70 miles from their posts at Wood Mountain to the east and Eastend to the west.

This view looks out across the farmland to the west and a handful of yard lights. But little else spoils the view around the rest of the horizon. The last vestiges of evening twilight provide a backdrop for the lone silhouette.

The Milky Way arches overhead, and some bands of green airglow, a natural night sky phenomenon, stretch from east to west. The centre of the Milky Way Galaxy lies to the far right, with its glowing clouds of stars.

– Alan, August 26, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

8 comments on “Standing Under the Stars at Grasslands Park”

  1. So beautiful, so majestic – Alan the image is so amazing!!!!, the last time I viewed the Milky Way was in the Southern Hemisphere many moons ago and so happy to see it from your perspective – thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Wow Alan, is this ever spectacular; should be on next year’s RASC calendar!

    • Hi Neel – its no good for calendars as the format is wrong — too wide and narrow. That’s the problem with panoramas — they are hard to reproduce in any usual print medium. Even here, the image is too small.

  3. We’re really lucky to have you here to record for others what this place is like for us. (From Laureen Marchand, Chairperson, Prairie Wind & Silver Sage – Friends of Grasslands, Val Marie, & the rest of the PWSS board)

  4. Thank you again and again Mr. Dyer for all the great photos and descriptions you make available to us. I look forward every day to something new from you.

  5. Love your posts. I love photography, although I’m lacking the equipment and skill, and couple this with astronomy, you get some of the amazing shots you post. Anyhow, I’m curious how exactly you take a 360 degree picture like this? I have only a Canon G1X and it can only hold the lens open for 60 seconds (I don’t get much of a shot). Just curious, would love to know. Cheers!

    Tristan

    >

    • Hi — These types of pans are taken with wide-angle lenses, taking several segments at equal spacings, in this case 8 segments at 45° spacings, then processing them and stitching them with PTGui software (see PTGui.com). It works very well.


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