The night sky has inspired us for generations. Nighttime views and environments are among the critical park features the National Park Service (NPS) protects. Night sky protection enhances qualities of solitude and undeveloped wilderness character that animals depend on for survival, park visitors seek for connections, and many cultural-historical parks require for preservation. In this regard, the NPS recognizes a naturally dark night sky as more than a scenic canvas; it is part of a complex ecosystem that supports both natural and cultural resources.
Seven Simple Ways to Enjoy Natural Darkness
- Conquer your fears: Admit it. Most people are a bit uncomfortable in the dark. Try walking outside in a very dark area while keeping your flashlight in your pocket.
- Make a night vision friendly flashlight: By covering your flashlight with red cellophane or a red filter, you can prevent it from disrupting your night vision. Small flashlights work better than large ones.
- Stargaze: Spend time looking through telescopes and learning about the cosmos with your local science center, astronomy club, or park ranger.
- Go for a moonlit hike: The full moon provides ample light to see in most places. Let your eyes fully adjust. Be safe. A full moon hike will be a memorable experience.
- Awaken your nocturnal senses: Find a comfortable spot and look around. Allow your eyes 20 minutes to adjust, and you may be surprised how well you can see by starlight. Do objects appear further? Listen. Do sounds seem louder at night?
- Watch nocturnal wildlife: Many animals live their “days” at night. Look for nocturnal wildlife such as owls, bats, deer, bobcats, or fireflies.
- Be inspired: The night sky has been an inspiration for myth, literature, art, scientific discovery, and religion. Find your own way to connect with humankind’s celestial companion. Revel in its beauty and wonder, and most of all— be inspired! Night Sky Program Protecting Dark Night Skies All living things benefit from natural darkness.
The night sky is everyone’s heritage, but light pollution is rapidly eroding the unspoiled view of the stars. Replacing poor quality outdoor lights with modern, efficient fixtures is not only good for the environment, but also saves energy and money while improving safety and security. Shielding lights and directing them downward reduces unwanted glare and returns the beautiful night.