International Dark Sky Park

Milky Way in the sky over the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Keepers' Quarters

Crystal Coast Stargazers/Alex Gu

The National Park Service (NPS) and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) proudly announce Cape Lookout National Seashore was certified as an International Dark Sky Park in December 2021. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the night skies of the park and the opportunities for astronomy-based experiences for park visitors. Cape Lookout National Seashore is the first Atlantic coastal Dark Sky Place in the NPS to receive this certification.

Cape Lookout National Seashore received the certification after a rigorous application process that took two years and required the support of partners like our local astronomy club, the Crystal Coast Stargazers, the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center and the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. The certification required an evaluation of the light fixtures within the park and surrounding area. In some cases, light fixtures were retrofitted, or replaced altogether to meet dark-sky-friendly lighting requirements. Finally, the certification required the development of a plan to maintain outdoor lighting into the future, to protect the park’s dark skies for the benefit of the next generation of night sky enthusiasts.

Milky Way over Core Sound from Shell Point
The Park After Dark -- Once a common sight in the night sky, most people today have never seen the Milky Way due to the number and brightness of lights in and around our towns and cities. Fortunately, we can still see it from the Harkers Island Visitor Center stretching across the night sky.

Crystal Coast Stargazers/Brandon Porter

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 as a non-regulatory and voluntary program to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and public education. When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. Cape Lookout National Seashore now joins more than 190 places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution.

About the International Dark-Sky Association: The mission of IDA is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.

Last updated: March 19, 2022

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131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


252 728-2250

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