Amateur astronomers in Yukon have hit on a bright idea to try to boost winter tourism — “dark sky” designations for two of the territory’s larger parks.
“If you think about it, we spent so much effort on summer tourism and our summer season’s what — three months? So we’ve got another nine months of tourism potential that’s untapped with winter tourism,” said Forest Pearson of the Yukon Astronomical Society (YAS).
“A big part of that winter tourism is aurorae, and access to night skies.”
The society is proposing that Kluane National Park be a “dark sky preserve,” and Whitehorse’s Chadburn Lake Park become an “urban star park,” as designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).
According to the RASC’s website, a dark sky preserve “is an area in which no artificial lighting is visible and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities.”
Pearson says Kluane Park officials approached the YAS about seeking the designation.
An urban star park, meanwhile, is described by the RASC as an area where artificial light may be visible, but “is strictly controlled and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution.”
Pearson says the designations are not about removing, or prohibiting, all artificial lighting.
“It’s about providing responsible lighting,” he said. “It’s providing the right amount of light, in the right place, at the right time.”
The RASC’s first dark sky preserve was designated in 2008 on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island. Since then, the list has grown to include Jasper and Elk Island National Parks in Alberta, an area in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and several other spots across the country.
Four years ago, Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta and the N.W.T. became the world’s largest dark sky preserve, and the first in a park in Northern Canada.
Urban star parks have been designated in areas from the Bay of Fundy shore in New Brunswick, to Victoria’s Cattle Point.
Pearson says one of the most…