what is a Dark-Sky reserve, and why you need to go now

I’ve always been a sucker for the stars. Nothing beats being outdoors, in complete darkness, and seeing those tiny glittering specks in the sky. The stars in their vast numbers can make one feel completely overwhelmed and insignificant, or amazed to be alive on this little blue planet we call home. Personally, all my troubles seem to melt away, but it’s a wonderful sight that is quickly disappearing. Light pollution from cities are beginning to drown out the billions of stars that make up our Milky Way galaxy. There are places on this earth, however, that boast some of the best night skies for stargazing!

What is a Dark-Sky Reserve, and Why You Need to Go Now

What is a Dark-Sky Reserve

I had never heard of a Dark-Sky Reserve until a couple days ago. A Dark-Sky Reserve is a protected, designated area with limited to no light pollution.¬†They are areas dedicated to scientific study, educational awareness, and public enjoyment. If you’re into stargazing and astronomy, it’s the perfect place to get the most magnificent view of the millions of stars surrounding our little planet!

The levels of Dark-Sky vary:

A “Dark-Sky Park” (there are 39 in the USA) is a local area with low light pollution from surrounding populated areas.

A “Dark-Sky Reserve” has a dark core, with limited light pollution around the edges of the reserve. Currently, Idaho is the only state in the USA lucky enough to have a registered Dark-Sky Reserve.

A “Dark-Sky Sanctuary” is one of the darkest places on earth. It’s completely isolated and has absolutely no light pollution. It’s so rare that there are only three certified Dark-Sky Sanctuaries on the entire planet. One sanctuary, the Cosmic Campground, happens to be right here in the United States! (I don’t think Antarctica counts because registration is required, and there’s no one willing to register Antarctica as far as I know).

Why You Need To Go

The night sky is disappearing. According to Vox, around 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way. After looking at a map of the earth at night, it’s not hard to believe.

Lights of the Earth at Night
The world at night. Light pollution prevents one from seeing all the night sky has to offer.

But a disappearing night sky isn’t the only reason you should go. I’ve had the privilege of being at sea in the Navy. When the skies were clear, all you could see was the stars! It’s a site that not many people from industrial countries get to witness. Here are some other reasons you should go to a Dark-Sky Park or Reserve:

  • You get to learn more about astronomy
  • It’s a stress-free activity that can calm your busy mind
  • It makes for some amazing photo opportunities
  • You can actually¬†see the constellations and Milky Way
  • Life’s problems seem to drift away into the vast, starry night

Seriously, you should go! Make it a hiking or camping adventure. Get out and enjoy the stars before they disappear.

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what is a Dark-Sky reserve, and why you need to go now

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