Science Space 19 Dark Sky Parks Where the Heavens Steal the Show By Melissa Breyer Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. Learn about our editorial process Updated October 11, 2018 Mindaugas Vitkus / Unsplash Share Twitter Pinterest Email Science Space Natural Science Technology Agriculture Energy The splendors of a starry sky have been filling us with wonder since the dawn of civilization. Today, many of us look up into the nighttime heavens and are lucky to see just a handful of stars. “Hey, what are those twinkling things in the sky?” Oh yeah, stars. The rampant and careless use of artificial light is destroying one of our most inspiring natural resources – the nighttime sky. While light pollution itself is reversible, its effects are deleterious and enduring. It not only denies us of one of the world's most profound spectacles, but it also threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone, according to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Fortunately, this fact hasn’t been lost on a growing number of people working to preserve our view of the heavens and all that comes with it. IDA, for example, has been striving to protect and preserve this natural resource for future generations. Part of their efforts to recognize those working on behalf of the wide dark yonder is their International Dark Sky Park program, in which they provide a certified designation to parks or other public land, “possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resources.” Amen to that. Lucas Jampietro / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 As of January 2015, there were 19 IDA-Designated Dark Sky Parks. While many of you are lucky to live in areas that would qualify as well, we thank our lucky stars for these parks that have put a priority on preserving our view of the wilderness above. Here is the current list, may it continue to grow: Big Bend National Park: Texas, USAChaco Culture National Historical Park: New Mexico, USACherry Springs State Park: Pennsylvania, USAClayton Lake State Park: New Mexico, USACopper Breaks State Park: Texas, USADeath Valley National Park: California, USAEnchanted Rock State Natural Area: Texas, USAGalloway Forest Park: Scotland, UKGoldendale Observatory Park: Washington, USAHortobagy National Park: HungaryHovenweep National Monument: Utah-Colorado, USAMayland Community College Blue Ridge Observatory and Star Park: NC, USANatural Bridges National Monument: Utah, USANorthumberland Park/Kielder Water Forest Park: Northumberland, EnglandObservatory Park: Ohio, USAOracle State Park: Arizona, USAParashant International Night Sky Province: Arizona, USAThe Headlands: Michigan, USAZselic National Landscape Protection Area: Hungary Update: The list has grown and grown! As of July 17, 2018, there are SIXTY-TWO IDA-Designated Dark Sky Parks. See them all here.