Stargazing in Jasper – Orionids (23-25 Oct 2015)


Dates: Oct 22-25 (4 days)
Location: Trip leaves from Edmonton, AB, Canada
Cost: $850
Accommodation: Moderate – Log Cabin-like room with two double beds, bathroom with shower, kitchenette.

Description:

Participate in the global Citizen Science opportunity to document the Orionid Meteor Showers (shooting stars). This year the meteor showers take place when the moon is in its first quarter, making it easy to see the meteor shower. The trip takes place right around the peak of the shower, so we should see quite a few shooting stars, typically 60 to 100 per hour. What better place to see the show than Jasper National Park, a Dark Sky Preserve!

You will meet up with your Trip Lead in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the scenic drive to the lodge in Jasper National Park. After settling in, you will have the afternoon and evening to explore the area. We will go out at midnight to view and document the meteors, and upload our data to NASA.

This amazing trip will take you into some beautiful country, perhaps see the northern lights, and participate in a global Citizen Science project of documenting the Orionid Meteor showers. See you there!

What’s Included

  • Return transportation to Edmonton
  • Daily van transportation between the lodge and Jasper, and reasonable daily transportation to nearby trailheads
  • Accommodations
  • All meals, glass of wine or specialty drink with dinner
  • Trip Lead
  • Citizen Science T-shirt

Why the research is important

A meteor, or shooting star, is a small piece of rock that is passing through earth’s atmosphere. Meteor showers are named after the star constellation from which they radiate – thus the Orionids seem to come from the constellation Orion, but they can appear anywhere in the sky.

According to Seasky.org, the Orionids is an average meteor showers, producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by grains of dust left by Halley’s Comet which was known and observed in ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what should be a good show.

NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) is the NASA organization responsible for meteoroid environments pertaining to spacecraft engineering and operations. The MEO leads NASA technical work on the meteoroid environment and coordinates the existing meteoroid expertise at NASA centers.

The primary functions of the MEO are to:
* Lead NASA technical work on the meteoroid environment; coordinate the existing meteoroid expertise at NASA centers.
* Provide design, operational determination, and review assistance for NASA Programs/projects with respect to risk mitigation.
* Develop, maintain, and distribute a more accurate sporadic meteoroid model.
* Provide meteor shower forecasts to NASA spacecraft operators.

NASA, in partnership with the International Meteor Organization, has an ongoing Citizen Science program where they are asking the help of all people interested in meteors to document their meteor findings. By having people document the shooting stars from all around the world, they can better put together 3-D models of the meteors. NASA have created an app for this as described in Scientific American.

As part of this trip, we will use the NASA app to document the Orionid meteor shower. That is just the starting point – something anyone can do. If you have an interest in photography and want to take the opportunity to get some amazing photos of the shooting stars, some information about taking photos of meteors can be found here.


About the research area

We will be staying in the Miette Hot Springs area of Jasper National Park (Hot Springs will be closed for the season).  This is near Jasper House, one of the primary observation sites.  We will also be traveling to Pyramid Island.

More broadly, the trip will be in Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Jasper townsite (village) has a lot to offer visitors, with a visitor information centre, interpretive programs and walks, lots of restaurants.


Daily life/itinerary

First day:

10:00AM Drive to Jasper through the Rocky Mountains

6:00PM Welcome Dinner

12:00-2:00AM Shooting stars (Citizen Science)

Friday:

8:00PM-11:00PM Beyond the Stars (optional)

Explore the night sky with volunteers armed with their deep-sky telescopes from the Edmonton Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Also throughout the evening, featured guest speakers will take you past the stars with a twist of pop culture and through space with some quirky takes on current popular topics.

Saturday:

Late breakfast!

12:00-4:00PM Jasper Dark Sky Festival (optional-schedule for 2015 tbd, below an example from 2014) -or- hiking/exploring/photography

  • Pop Bottle Water Rockets (Kids)
  • Dark Sky Guest Speakers
  • Out of this World Science Demo (Kids)
  • Live Planetarium Shows
  • Family Fun Science (Kids)
  • Daytime Astronomy
  • Reach for the Stars Rocket Launch (Kids)

5:00-6:00 Dinner

8:00 11:00 PM Pyramid Island Starlight Adventure (optional)

Pyramid Island will be the starlit base camp to the night sky and experience the wonders of the galaxy with astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

12:00-2:00AM Shooting stars (Citizen Science)

Sunday

7:00AM –12:00 Travel to Edmonton in time for 1PM or later flights


Accommodation and food

We will be staying at Pocahontas Cabins, beautiful log-cabin-like accommodations surrounded by stunning mountain views and lots of wildlife, about 30 minutes north of the town of Jasper.

  • Rustic motel units with one queen bed and one double bed
  • Bathroom with stand-up shower
  • TV and DVD player
  • Small refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker
  • Patio with picnic table/patio furniture
  • Hairdryer
  • Complimentary in room coffee and tea

All meals are included and will be prepared by the Trip Lead over a barbeque.  A hot breakfast will start you off in the morning, whenever you wake up (within reason of course).  Lunch and snacks will be something that you can pack into a backpack to take with you on the trail or into town.  We will have supper together, something warm and nourishing.  One small glass of wine per night per person is included, or equivalent non-alcoholic beverage.

We can accommodate most dietary restrictions, just let us know when you make your reservation.


Cost details

Travelers should plan on a night in Edmonton on Thursday as the train leaves Edmonton at 7:30 AM. You will be back in Edmonton by noon on Sunday for 1PM or later flights.

$200 deposit per person is required to secure your place, you will be invoiced for the remainder, including any applicable taxes, 6 weeks prior to the trip.


Travel assistance & arrangements

If you need assistance with travel to/from Edmonton, or need a hotel in Edmonton, we recommend our travel partner Your Paradise Awaits. They can also help you with travel insurance, which we strongly recommend.