The Night Skies are Brighter Over These Certified Dark Sky National Parks
What are Dark Sky National Parks?
Dark Sky National Parks are places that have been designated as having exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights. These parks protect night skies and offer amazing views of stars and planets. The quality of night sky viewing in a Dark Sky National Parks is excellent due to low light pollution levels-which makes it easier to see celestial objects.
You can enjoy nature while observing the universe: Stargazing in a Dark Sky National Park lets you experience the beauty of nature without being disturbed by other people or noise pollution from cars or buildings. Stargazing is safe and comfortable: With proper gear and preparation, stargazing in a Dark Sky National Parks is safe and comfortable for all ages!
In order for a park to become an Dark Sky National Park, it must possess an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights. While other parks protect ecosystems against development and pollution, the stars at Dark Sky National Parks are protected as well as wildlife and natural features against development and pollution.
How are Dark Sky National Parks designated?
To designate Dark Sky National Park, applicants must demonstrate robust community support for dark sky protection and document designation-specific program requirements. The process is rigorous and requires strong community support.
What are the benefits of visiting a Dark Sky National Park?
- These parks offer visitors a rare chance to see the Milky Way without all of the city lights interfering.
- Many parks offer specialized programs for after dark: From astronomy festivals to ranger-led full moon walks, many parks have specialized programs just for after dark.
- The darkness allows you to see more stars and planets: With less artificial light blocking your view, you can see more stars and planets than you would at other times of year.
- Going out in nature has many benefits: Aside from simply enjoying stunning night sky views, spending time outdoors in nature has numerous other health benefits including reducing stress levels, improving your sleep quality, promoting weight loss/weight gain control, increasing exercise tolerance/intensity levels etc…etc…
- These parks protect dark sky areas by regulating lighting and promoting astronomy education.
- You’ll appreciate the darkness: With limited light pollution, visitors can see incredible starry nights in these parks.
- You’ll learn about astronomy: Visiting a Dark Sky National Park will teach you a lot about astronomy and its many discoveries.
- You’ll get involved with conservation efforts: By supporting dark sky conservation, you’re helping to preserve one of our planet’s most precious resources-its night sky!
Stargazing Connects You with The Night Sky
- Many parks offer specialized programs after dark, such as astronomy festivals and ranger-led moon walks.
- Visiting a dark sky Dark Sky National Park can be an affordable and rare opportunity for many Americans thanks to light pollution restrictions in most parts of the country.
- Stargazing is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, and by doing so, you can connect with the night sky.
- Certified parks: If you’re looking for an enjoyable place to stargaze, look no further than certified parks. These parks have been inspected and meet the highest standards in terms of safety and quality of viewing.
- Bring a red flashlight for enhanced night vision: A red flashlight will help you see more clearly at night, which will make your experience more pleasurable.
- Binoculars are recommended: A pair of 7×50 binoculars is what’s recommended to enjoy the beauty of the night sky without any light pollution interference from city lights or streetlights.
- Star chart is helpful: Having a star chart handy will show you where all the major constellations are located in relation to each other on a given day or night-very helpful if you’re not familiar with stars!
- Enjoy nature at its fullest!: Stargazing connects us with our natural surroundings in an extraordinary way – it’s truly one of life’s simple pleasures that we should all take advantage of.
Want to relax and de-stress? Stargazing is a great way to do just that
- Stargazing is a great way to relax and de-stress: A dark sky place allows you to view the stars and other celestial objects more clearly, which can help you relax and de-stress.
- Take your time adjusting to the dark: Give yourself at least 20 minutes before turning on any light sources in order for your eyes to adjust.
- Wear warm clothing: Even on summer nights, wear warm clothing so you don’t get too cold while looking at the stars.
- Look for constellations and other stargazing opportunities: Check each park’s website for events like stargazing nights or telescope viewings so you can enjoy nature while relaxing your mind with astronomy.
Photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz
Stargazing can be a fun and educational activity for kids
Stargazing is a great way for kids to have fun and learn about the universe. Light pollution from artificial lights prevents nearly 80 percent of Americans from seeing the Milky Way. However, there are Dark Sky National Parks in the U.S. which offer a rare chance to see the night sky without artificial light interference. To enjoy stargazing at a park, visitors are recommended to bring binoculars, a flashlight, and a star chart.
Stargazing is a great way to experience the beauty of nature
Stargazing is a great way to connect with nature. Most Americans can’t see the Milky Way because of light pollution, but there are Dark Sky National Parks in the U.S. that offer pristine stargazing conditions. Certified parks offer an opportunity to view the night sky before electric light interfered. Stargazing connects people to nature and helps them appreciate the universe; it’s also a great way to relax and destress.
Stargazing can be a romantic activity for couples
Not only is it an awe-inspiring experience, but dark sky parks offer incredible visibility that’s otherwise difficult to access. If you and your partner love stargazing, there are a certified parks where you can go to appreciate the night sky.
- Visibility: Nearly 80 percent of Americans live in areas where they cannot see the Milky Way from their homes due to light pollution, which means that many visitors have a rare opportunity to see stars at night without interference.
- Specialized after-dark programs are available: Many dark sky parks offer specialized programs designed for visitors interested in astronomy and astrophotography, such as festivals and ranger-led walks or full moon hikes.
- It’s a great way to bond with your partner: Stargazing can be one of the most intimate activities you can do together; sharing this special time with your loved ones is sure to bring happiness both now and into the future.
- Stargazing is a romantic activity: Stargazing is a great way to spend time with your partner and relax together.
- As you can see, the night sky is filled with beautiful stars and planets. It’s a great way to spend time together without having to talk or anything else.
- Stars and planets in the night sky: Stargazing is one of the best ways to see what’s out there in space. Not only do you get to look at some of the most beautiful objects in existence, but you also get to share that experience with your loved ones.
- Shared experience: Stargazing is a great way for couples to spend time together without needing words or anything else other than just gazing at the amazing night sky together.
Certified Dark Sky Parks in the USA
- Acadia National Park
- Arches National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Big Bend National Park
- Big Cypress National Preserve
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Buffalo National River
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Capulin Volcano National Monument
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
- Death Valley National Park
- Denali National Park and Preserve
- Dinosaur National Monument
- El Morro National Monument
- Flagstaff Area National Monuments
- Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
- Fort Union National Monument
- Glacier National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
- Great Basin National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Natural Bridges National Monument
- Obed Wild and Scenic River
- Olympic National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
- Pipe Spring National Monument
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Tonto National Monument
- Tumacacori National Historical Park
- Valles Caldera National Preserve
- Voyageurs National Park
- Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Dark skies are important for a variety of reasons. For one, they allow us to experience the night sky the way it was meant to be seen–without light pollution obscuring our view. They also help protect nocturnal wildlife, as many animals rely on darkness to hunt or forage. Finally, dark skies promote astronomy and stargazing, providing optimal conditions for observing the stars and planets.
Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli from Pennsylvania, USA, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Choosing a location
When choosing a location for stargazing, you should consider the weather conditions, wildlife, and any potential hazards. You should also try to find an area that is away from populated areas and has minimal light pollution.
Avoiding light pollution
The best time to go stargazing is during a new moon, or when it is dark outside. To avoid light pollution, you should leave developed areas and stay out for longer than 30 minutes. Bring a chair and binoculars to see the best views. Put red cellophane on your flashlight or headlight to reduce its effect on your eyes.
Tips for using binoculars
Binoculars can help you see stars in the night sky more clearly. To get the best views, visit an International Dark Sky park during a new moon. Avoid towns and developed areas, as light pollution can make it harder to see stars. Bring a chair so that you can sit for longer periods of time and binoculars to help you see details on the starry sky. The National Park Service has a comprehensive page on how to use binoculars for stargazing. The page covers everything from advice on what to look for to how to set up your viewing area.
To enjoy stargazing, it is recommended that you dress in layers and bring a blanket or lawn chair. The night can be cold, so a long-sleeve shirt or jacket is recommended. You may also want to bring sunscreen and insect repellent, as mosquitoes may be present. A flashlight will come in handy if you need to move around in the dark. Joining a local astronomy society is a great way to meet new friends and learn more about stargazing.
Photo: Raw Pixels Public Domain
All you need are good eyesight and a telescope—or better yet, a pair of binoculars. By visiting one of these certified dark sky parks, you’ll be able to view stars and planets like never before. Not only will you be awe struck by how vast and beautiful the universe really is, but you’ll also learn about astronomy and get tips on how to best enjoy your stargazing experience.