Lightscape / Night Sky
Photo by Dan and Cindy Duriscoe
Many wonders await visitors in Canyonlands, from the natural beauty of the red rock formations to the remains of prehistoric cultures. Archeologists think that the sun, moon and stars were significant to these cultures since these subjects are frequently represented in pottery designs, rock art images and even the alignment of buildings. Can you imagine the awe and mystery felt by prehistoric people as they gazed upon the night sky? That same sky is still available to us today, and is one of Canyonlands' most spectacular features.
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. To find the darkest parks and document the widespread affects of light pollution, the National Park Service created the Night Sky Team.
What many people don't realize 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. The Night Sky Team is laying the groundwork to protect and restore these dark places, ensuring our ability to connect with ancient sky watchers through the starry night and to contemplate our own place within the universe.
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. As long as people still care about the night sky, we can make a difference.