Lightscape / Night Sky

Hundreds of white dots against a black background with two thick irregularly-shaped white lines running vertically just left of center.
The Milky Way.

Pollution of dark night skies with artificial light is a problem in much of the world. We have only begun to explore its ecological effects, such as impacts on migrating birds, turtles, and other species, as well as possible impacts on predator processes and plant dynamics whose phenology depends on day length.

National parks represent some of the last opportunities to protect nighttime darkness. We can often identify specific sources of light pollution outside of park boundaries, and work with our neighbors to modify them. We also need to identify sources of light pollution generated by the National Park Service within parks and take steps to ensure that our lighting systems in parking lots, maintenance yards, and other facilities are properly designed.

California's first Dark Sky Reserve?

In 2021, Point Reyes National Seashore—collaborating with the Point Reyes Station Village Association, Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, and the communities surrounding the park—began the effort to become an International Dark Sky Reserve. Learn more at Dark Sky Point Reyes.

Learn more about the night sky at national parks.

Park Science

Marech, R. 2023. Reaching for the Sky. National Parks 97(2): 30–38. Available at (accessed 6 April 2023).

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Learn More about the Importance of Dark Night Skies

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    Last updated: April 7, 2023

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