Friday, October 11, 2013

International Dark Sky Park

The Headlands International Dark-Sky Park

I love reading good news about my home state, Michigan. According to, a dark-sky park was completed last year just north of Petoskey in Emmet County.

A dark-sky park is "an International Dark-Sky Park is a location of exceptional nighttime beauty, dark skies education, and preservation of the nighttime environment." as defined by the International Dark-Sky Association.  There are just a handful of these in the world, so I am thrilled that The Headlands International Dark-Sky Park is in beautiful northern Michigan. Besides dark-sky parks, the Dark-Sky Association also designates places as communities and reserves.

 A community is classified as "An International Dark Sky Community excels in its efforts to achieve a community-wide lighting code, promote responsible lighting, dark sky stewardship, and exist as an example to surrounding communities on the possibilities available with the proper lighting." Examples include Flagstaff, Arizona (since 2001) and Isle of Sark, Channel Islands, UK. 

A dark-sky reserve is a "public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area. 
The International Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and receives benefits from them as well. The International Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners and/or administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning." 

The International Dark-Sky Association's website lists a scant 5 places as dark-sky reserves, including Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand and NambiRand Nature Reserve in Nambia. Both are gold level examples on their scale of bronze upwards to gold. 

It's too bad I am finding out about this after I have moved over 2000 miles from home. I was not anywhere near Petoskey (at least a 6 hour drive), but now I'm a 6 hour plane ride. If you are like me, you cannot go to Michigan, but check the list. There is an official international dark-sky place at least relatively near you.