Stargazing Spotlight: Death Valley National Park
As we watch more and more skyscrapers shoot up, more houses being built, more roads being paved, and just complete urbanization of the land surrounding us, the National Park Service becomes increasingly important. One movement in particular, led by the International Dark-Sky Association, credits parks, communities, and reserves for preserving dark skies. These areas are led by dedicated groups of citizens, staffs, and volunteers that are concerned with light pollution and its negative effects.
Related: Stargazing Spotlight: Mauna Kea
Death Valley National Park located east of the Sierra Nevada in both California and Nevada has been designated a Dark Sky Park by the IDA and continues to strive towards keeping that title. It is the largest Dark Sky Park, and to qualify for the designation the park improved external lighting at facilities, reduced energy consumption, sky glow, and glare.
These actions to reduce unnecessary lighting fulfilled “Starry, Starry Night,” a goal within A Call to Action, NPS’s stewardship and engagement priorities for its second century. And the park has completed their goal, maintaining an area that has one of the most vivid starscapes you can see in the U.S. Along with the bare desert terrain of the park, the stars start at your feet and are seemingly endless.
Though, despite it’s remote location, Death Valley is not too far from bustling Las Vegas and the dark sky park is threatened by the light pollution of civilization. That’s why the NPS offers education on the subject of light pollution. Death Valley also holds full moon festivals that celebrate the magical glow, and starry nights that come along with a full moon.