Death Valley Receives Gold Tier Dark Sky Label
February 22, 2013

Death Valley National Park Named Largest International Dark Sky Park In The World

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced this week that Death Valley National Park is being designated as the largest International Dark Sky Park in the world.

The association said that the park offers views similar to what could have been seen before the rise of cities, due to its seclusion from other towns.

Death Valley earned a "Gold Tier" status from the sky pollution watchdog, a status awarded to only those places that offer some of the darkest locations across the globe.

“Death Valley is a place to gaze in awe at the expanse of the Milky Way, follow a lunar eclipse, track a meteor shower, or simply reflect on your place in the universe,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We greatly appreciate the International Dark-Sky Association certification. It illustrates the park´s commitment to protect natural darkness and supports the wider mission to protect nightscapes of the entire National Park System.”

Death Valley is comprised of plenty of wilderness areas, and is also famous for its extreme climate. The 3.4 million acre park is free of its own sources of light pollution, and the only competing light sources around the town are the lights of Las Vegas.

“Death Valley´s night skies are a thing of beauty that everyone should have a chance to see. We hope that the action the park has taken to preserve the night sky within its borders will inspire surrounding communities to follow their example," said IDA Executive Director Bob Parks.

The national park hopes to influence other surrounding areas, including Xanterra Parks and Resorts, to improve their lighting. Xanterra said it plans to continue lighting upgrades, with goals of improving the night sky over Death Valley.

Cities could help with light pollution, and open up a new window of vastness the night sky has to offer by using outdoor light fixtures that direct light to the ground, rather than sideways or upwards. Also, areas could eliminate outdoor lighting where it is unnecessary.

A documentary was released last year, with the subject matter being about light pollution. "Losing the Dark" was a video production brought on by the International Dark-Sky Association and Loch Ness Productions. The video gives facts about light pollution, as well as gives viewers a way to work together to combat the issue.

IDA named New Zealand's Aoraki Mackenzie the world's largest "International Dark Sky Reserve". This reserve covers over 1,600 square miles of New Zealand's South Island.