Friday Photo: Billions of Stars on View in the Lone Star State

Night skies over Big Bend National Park, an International Dark-Sky Park. Photo © Tyler Nordgren.

Night skies over Big Bend National Park, an International Dark-Sky Park. Photo © Tyler Nordgren.

Imagine looking up at the night sky to watch a seasonal meteor shower at your favorite national park, miles away from the bustle of the city, only to discover as your eyes adjust to the darkness that the stars are almost too faint to see. Light and air pollution have increasingly obscured our view of the sky. The National Park Service now predicts that by 2025 there will be few places left in the lower 48 states to view the Milky Way.

Fortunately, the Park Service has a Night Sky Team that has worked for years with agencies and local residents to help preserve dark nighttime skies. Just last week, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Big Bend National Park in Texas as a Dark Sky Park–the second U.S. national park and one of just ten parks in the world to achieve that distinction.

The photo above gives just a glimpse of what we gain from preserving the darkness.

About the Author

Bryan Faehner is former associate director of park use for NPCA.