The National Park Service and the International Dark Sky Association announced today that Valles Caldera National Preserve has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the preserve’s night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy-based interpretive programming.
Located in the Jemez Mountains of north-central New Mexico, Valles Caldera National Preserve is an excellent place to learn about and enjoy the wonders of the night sky, where it is possible to see the Milky Way, meteor showers, planets, and star constellations, unobstructed by light pollution.
“The night sky has inspired countless humans to dream, invent, and explore. With this certification, we are committed to preserving our dark night skies and sharing all that we can learn from them with our surrounding communities and visitors to Valles Caldera,” said Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos.
International Dark Sky Park certification promotes public education and astronomy-based recreation in parks while improving energy efficiency and reduced operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades, which in turn creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism.
While the certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority, it demonstrates a commitment by land managers to improve night skies through use of energy efficient, sustainable lighting. Certification also reaffirms a commitment to educate the public and gateway communities about the importance of dark-sky compliant outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together to preserve shared resources and values.
The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education. Valles Caldera now joins more than 100 locations that have received dark sky certification. This is the 37th NPS site to receive the recognition.
Astronomy events will be held throughout the year in collaboration with many partner organizations, including Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Village of Jemez Springs, Los Alamos County, Pajarito Astronomers, and Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Details for these and other programs can be found on the Astronomy and Calendar of Events pages on the preserve’s website www.nps.gov/vall. The International Dark-Sky Association’s mission is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at www.darksky.org.