According to the Los Angeles Times, on July 26, the International Dark Sky Association designated Joshua Tree National Park as a Dark Sky Park, a momentous feat when one considers that the park is almost completely surrounded by metropolitan areas with much light pollution.
The 10th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. National Park system, Joshua Tree is only 140 miles from Los Angeles, where stars were long-ago washed out by streetlights, airports, malls and the dense population.
The LA Times reports the International Dark Sky Association first formed in 1988, and since then, the non-profit and its 3,500 members have dedicated their time and resources to protecting and preserving the darkest spots on the globe, as well as limiting light pollution through methods that include no-glare street lights and low-energy bulbs.
The Dark Sky Association program manager, John Barentine, told the LA Times the application for Joshua Tree to be designated as a Dark Sky Park “involved the most complex set of circumstances we’ve ever had to consider anywhere in the world.”
The park is bordered by Palm Springs, Yucca Valley, Los Angeles, as well as the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, and the city of Twentynine Palms.
The association has three levels of designation it can apply to a new location. Because of its complexity, Joshua Tree National Park was designated as a silver location.
The International Dark Sky Association said in a press release announcing the designation, “While the western half of the Park is significantly impacted by light from Palm Springs and, to a lesser extent, the cities of the nearby Morongo Basin, visitors who make the trek to the Park’s eastern wilderness area are rewarded with some of the darkest night skies left in the region.”
If you’re in the Southern California region, head to the eastern edge of Joshua Tree for a pristine look at the night sky.
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