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Utah Leads The World With Nine International Dark Sky Parks

Utah Leads The World With Nine International Dark Sky Parks Image

The Milky Way arches across the sky as seen from Antelope Island State Park. Photo by Dan Ransom.

Antelope Island State Park in Utah, U.S., has officially been awarded the title of International Dark Sky Park by IDA. It is the ninth such designation for Utah, more than any other state, province or region in the world.

A park is only given this designation after IDA staff have reviewed the area and have found it to possess “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment.” The association also asks that the land be protected for its natural, educational, scientific, and/or cultural heritage.

Antelope Island is known worldwide for its stunning landscapes, engaging activities, and its annual Bison Roundup. With this designation adding to the allure of the park, Assistant Park Manager Wendy Wilson says things are only up from here.

“We are thrilled,” Wilson said. “Dark skies are a valuable resource that is often overlooked, but critical to human health, scientific research, wildlife health, and overall safety. We have a lot of support from the community with our efforts to attain this designation – particularly from Syracuse City and Davis County.”

Scott Feierabend, the IDA Executive Director, said the designation of Antelope Island is a great step towards raising awareness and gives the community something to be proud of.

“The recognition of Antelope Island State Park as an IDA International Dark Sky Park is another important achievement in raising the profile of light pollution and dark skies in the greater Salt Lake City area,” Feierabend said. “Over a million city dwellers have access to naturally dark nighttime conditions on Antelope Island thanks to the efforts of park staff in promoting conservation of the resources through appropriate outdoor lighting.”

Today’s announcement also brings the total number of official Dark Sky Parks in the Utah State Park division to three. Antelope Island is preceded by Dead Horse Point State Park and Goblin Valley State Park, both of which earned their dark sky designation in the summer of 2016. Other state parks within the division are also looking to begin their designation application process.

To celebrate, Antelope Island State Park is hosting a Star Party on Saturday, August 26. Members of the Ogden Astronomical Society will be there to assist and will have telescopes ready. The celebration starts at 6 p.m. and deep space viewing starts at dark.

Those visiting Antelope Island can visit the Utah State Parks website at stateparks.utah.gov to check for any upcoming activities and events. For a dark sky experience, keep an eye open for the Antelope Island star parties and other interpretive dark sky events. Join us for an experience you’ll remember forever.

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