Calling all stargazers - World's First International Dark Sky Park!
National parks preserve some of the darkest skies in the country. In some areas, it’s possible to see up to 15,000 stars throughout the night. By contrast, fewer than 500 stars may be visible from more urban environments. What many people don't realise is that light pollution affects more than just astronomers. Nocturnal animals need darkness for survival, and the circadian rhythms of humans and plants rely on an unaltered night sky.
Though light pollution is created by a multitude of lights, this problem can be resolved one light at a time. When an outdoor light burns out, consider it an opportunity to install a lower intensity bulb or replace the fixture with one that is more night-friendly. Shielding that directs light downward produces less glare and improves security.
Natural Bridges in southeastern Utah has made protecting its dark sky a priority so that people can enjoy the stunning river of light formed by the Milky Way rising over Owachomo Bridge. On March 6th, 2007, Natural Bridges National Monument became the first International Dark Sky Park certified by the International Dark Sky Association. The goal of a Dark Sky Park is to preserve the skies and educate the public about light pollution and how they can make a difference.
During the summer, the park provides astronomy ranger programs under spectacular starry skies. "Many park visitors are astounded when they first see the Milky Way under a dark sky. It isn't just a faint smudge in the sky, but a bright, intricate river of light-almost three dimensional," says one of the rangers on the program. These park rangers are referred to as Dark Rangers..how cool is that?!