KIll the lights! And welcome to Wood Buffalo National Park, the world's largest Dark Sky Preserve. Here, far from the blinding glare of big-city lights, the nighttime heavens shine forth in all their glory – the moon, the planets, the Milky Way, and the stellar Northern Lights. You can enjoy this celestial tapestry anytime from mid-August to April, but the finest time is during the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival, happening this year from August 18-21. Here are a few of the star (pun intended!) attractions.
Blast off! Always a hit with the little astronauts in the crowd, the launch is not only thrilling to see but also a great intro to the science of rocketry.
Check out those guns! Yep, there'll be plenty of magnum-grade telescopes for star-gazers to peer through – and of course, you're welcome to bring your own.
Literally. That's Roberta Bondar, Canada's first female astronaut, from a Dark Sky Festival a few years ago. This year the festival will welcome another famous space-woman, Julie Payette. She's been in orbit twice, making more than 400 circuits around the Earth. She'll give a presentation that will be, we're pretty sure, extra-planetary.
Yum! It's a Northwest Territories staple.
Baking soda, vinegar – I'm guessing some stuff is about to blow up. For kids and adults alike, hands-on learning is a focus of the festival.
With dry, clear, wide-open – and most importantly, dark – skies, the Pine Lake festival site in Wood Buffalo National Park has some of the best Auroral displays in the world.
No, seriously, just look at it. When are you ever going to see a more stunning skyscape? And since it's mid-August, it's not even cold outside, meaning you and your fellow festival-goers can kick back in a camp chair all night long, ogling the heavens. It's enough to make you feel both humbled and inspired. It's why the Dark Sky Festival will brighten your life.