Northern Lights over Canmore Alberta

Capturing the Night Sky

I often get questions about some of the pictures that I take of the stars and the night sky. I think for many people, the night sky is something that they look up at occasionally, see a few stars, and then go back to their regular lives. The truth is though, if you actually seek a perfectly dark night sky, you will open your eyes to things you could have never imagined.

Our society is driven by light. The lights that allow us to function at night also cause what is called “light pollution” which is light from human sources (such as cities, factories, etc) that takes over all forms of natural light. Now, light pollution is not always a bad thing, and I have actually used it to my advantage in the past. Take this picture in Kananaskis, Alberta for instance:

The light pollution created by Calgary in the bottom left is a slight distraction, but it also creates a beautiful fade into the dark sky at left of the picture.

Granted, the image above is in black and white, so you do not get the full example of the light pollution. This next image shows a faint yellow glow on the horizon at the bottom of the picture. This is some minor light pollution from Vancouver, while I was shooting this north of Pemberton, nearly 250km away! Yes, light pollution does travel far!

When you get in to truly dark sky, the Milky Way starts to show, and you start to understand exactly where it got its name!

One source of light that I will NEVER complain about is the Aurora Borealis, or “Northern Lights”. This amazing light show put on by particles of solar eruptions hitting our atmosphere is something that not many get to witness. The light show can last for hours, or just be several minutes in duration. Usually, green and purple are the main colours, though you can also see many other tints if you pay close enough attention!

What are your thoughts on stars and the night sky? Have you ever wandered far from civilization to see a truly dark sky? I cannot stress enough how amazing it is!


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