Stargazing is a pastime that has captured the hearts of many people, and one way to do it is to head to a Dark Sky Park. These parks are certified around the world that has been certified dark enough from which to see the stars, but it's so much more than that. A park that has been a registered Dark Sky location means visitors can witness a wide variety of things from within its bounds: specific stars, planets, the milky way, meteor showers, and even specific star and planet anomalies that would otherwise remain unseen in a city or suburban setting.
Many of these sites in the U.S. are in the western half of the country where desert and mountain landscapes allow for a lack of civilization. However, there's not a park that can be added to the list, and it's transboundary: the Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park. This park stretches from Canada to the midwest - specifically, Montana - allowing people in both countries to visit the same park and observe the night sky.
About The Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park
The newly-created park stretches from Canada's Glacier National Park all the way to Waterton Lakes National Park in Montana. The term 'transboundary' speaks to its overlap between both countries, becoming the very first to traverse country borders to create one unified park. Dark skies in both Canada and Montana result in some of the darkest skies across the region, which will make it a pretty popular option among stargazers.
While Glacier National Park has been recognized internationally since 2017, this is the first time that another park, let alone one in another country, has been recognized along with it. The park has upheld its status with a lack of light pollution by making the switch to dark sky-compliant lighting, and Waterton Lakes is the closest park to implement the same things. LED lights and special colored lights help to conceal light as a whole, doing the most to minimize disruptions within the park for both visitors and wildlife.
Why Are Dark Sky Parks So Important?
Dark Sky Parks hold such significance due to their naturally dark environments. While they may have a reputation for stargazing, these parks are also home to plenty of wildlife species that require the darkness to hunt, find shelter, and build homes. Therefore, maintaining this dark sky status isn't only necessary for sky-watching, but it's also necessary for the animals who call it their home. This lack of disruption is imperative on multiple levels and allows visitors to not only observe the night sky but observe the animals that live their lives according to it, as well.
Visitors can look forward to more stargazing in the future from both parks, now with improved dark sky lighting and more locations from which to observe the night sky.