Magazine article Sunset

Final Frontiers

Magazine article Sunset

Final Frontiers

Article excerpt

Stars, meteors, comets, and the cloudy Milky Way-if you live in a major metropolis, or even in the suburbs, chances are you're not seeing much of them at night, thanks to light pollution. To help preserve our view of the galaxies, the 30-year-old International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) identifies national parks, remote sanctuaries, and individual communities as the last remaining places where the stars are still on full display.

The IDA lists 96 sites worldwide, and with 11 new additions in California, Idaho, Arizona, and Utah, the West now has the highest concentration of sites in the country. Joshua Tree National Park, for example, was named an International Dark Sky Park last August. Then, in December, a 1,416-square-mile swath of Central Idaho became the 12th International Dark Sky Reserve, stretching from Ketchum and Sun Valley up to Stanley, through the Sawtooth National Forest. With its glacial valleys and 10,000-foot-plus peaks, the mountain range has resisted development, and much of the area is still without cell service or electricity. That makes its many campgrounds and more than 350 miles of trails a sky-watcher's playground.

Some small towns are taking big steps to maintain real darkness and protect their celestial assets. …

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