December 16, 2012

Starry Starry Night

We had a scheduled power outage in Lake Louise a couple of nights ago, and when the lights went out at 10:00 p.m., we went for a walk in the starlight.  Wow!  Orion was bright in the sky, and with binoculars, we peered into the Orion Nebula and into the nearby Pleiades star cluster.

Winter is star season in the Rockies, and if you want to enjoy incredible night skies without light pollution, here are a few helpful tips:

Jasper National Park was recently declared a “Dark Sky Preserve” by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and you can go on guided star walks on Saturday nights throughout the winter.

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park.  Photo by Thomas Pleiss.
To help you figure out what you're looking at, you can buy an amazing $3 app for your i-pad or i-phone called “Star Walk

To catch the northern lights, subscribe to "aurora watch", and you'll get real time updates of likely aurora borealis.

And finally, we'll be doing a night snowshoe trip from the Lake Louise Inn on December 28 starting at 6:00 p.m.  It will be a full moon, so the stars won't be as easy to see, but snowshoeing in the full moon is magical!

December 8, 2012

Photographer Amar Athwal

Northern Harrier in flight.  Photograph by Amar Athwal

A couple of years ago, we decided to give ourselves a weekly gift.  We signed up to receive emails that feature the photographs of a colleague of ours, Amar Athwal.  Amar lives and works in Banff for Parks Canada, and is a wizard with a camera.  The weekly photos he sends out are always a welcome sight in our inbox.

Amar explains how he took up his hobby: “Some eighteen years ago I started to take pictures while on hikes, today photography is the way I experience nature and it's the way I capture the moments I come across.”  His photos are the culmination of a lot of experience, a lot of hard work, and a very good eye.

If you want to give yourself an early Christmas present, without spending a penny, you can sign up for Amar's weekly “Moments” by e-mailing him at  Or, for a sneak preview, try his website.