Moon over Banff


This was the scene Sunday evening, July 29 with the gibbous Moon shining over Banff, Alberta.

I shot this from the viewpoint on Mt. Norquay overlooking the town of Banff, a favourite evening spot for tourists. Two just happened to wander into the scene and point at the Moon right on cue.

The mountain at left is Mt. Rundle; at right is Sulphur Mountain with its Gondola lift and hot springs, the “spa” attraction that created Banff in the 1880s and inspired the CP Railroad to build its famous Banff Springs Hotel, here in the distance on the far side of the town and still the posh place to stay when in Banff.

— Alan, August 3, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

 

Orion over the Grand Hotel


Orion sets over Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Springs Hotel in this nightscape from last weekend, February 3.

This is where Banff National Park – indeed the Canadian National Parks system – started, with the founding of a protected enclave around the hot springs and then the hotel, operated at first by the Canadian Pacific Railway, to serve visiting tourists seeking cure-all remedies from the sulphur springs.

Orion and Sirius shine above the Banff landmark, lit, unfortunately, far too brightly by sodium vapour lights. One day the ethic espoused by commercial interests of conserving the environment will extend to the night sky. When we set up telescopes at the Hotel a couple of years ago in honour of Earth Hour, we had to physically cover some lights — they could not be turned off!

So while this shot shows some of the beauty of the night sky from a site like Banff, it also shows what anyone under the veil of all those lights misses. Half the environment of the mountains.

— Alan, February 10, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Moon Over Banff Springs Hotel


A weekend in Banff National Park — but three cloudy nights foiled the array of starry time-lapse shots I had hoped to take. But on Sunday night, July 10, I did get a nice evening shot of the Moon over the most famous Banff landmark.

This is the Banff Springs Hotel, in the deepening twilight as the gibbous Moon shone over Sulphur Mountain behind the hotel. I shot this from the overlook across the Bow River on Tunnel Mountain Drive, a popular spot by day for tourists to disembark by the busload and get their requisite shot. But at this time of night, about 11 p.m., I was the only one there. That’s the beauty of nightscape photography — you have the scene to yourself! And the bears.

Banff Springs is the epitome of a grand hotel. Opened in 1888 but since reconstructed and added to several times, the hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway as the focal point for the tourists it planned to bring into the new Rocky Mountain Park, to take “the waters” in the Park’s sulphur hot springs and enjoy mountain wilderness in genteel splendour. I had the pleasure of staying there one night, in an upper room, courtesy of the Hotel as part of an astronomy outreach program we did there for Earth Hour in 2010. It was truly splendid!

For this shot, I combined three different exposures (1/2 second, 1.3 seconds and 3.4 seconds) in a High Dynamic Range stack, to bring out dark foreground detail but retain the still bright sky, and prevent the Moon from becoming too overexposed. So some Photoshop trickery was involved. But unlike many picture postcard scenes of the Moon sitting above a landmark, this one is real and has not had the Moon pasted into place, usually in a spot and orientation that is astronomically impossible! We astronomers hate that!

— Alan, July 11, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer