New study shows best national parks to avoid light pollution

The bright areas show where artificial light has an affect. Photo: Courtesy of Falchi et al., Science Advances

The bright areas show where artificial light has an effect. Photo: Courtesy of Falchi et al., Science Advances

As more and more of our land becomes developed, society is having to come to terms with that development’s repercussions. And for lovers of the night sky, light pollution is one of those problems.

Science Advances has recently published a study on light pollution in collaboration with the National Parks Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. The study, called The Atlas of Night Sky Brightness, has been conducted by an international team of scientists, and maps the most light-polluted places in the world.

National parks like Capital Reef, Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands are found to be in the darkest place in the United States (and in turn, the best places to see the stars) — known as the Colorado Plateau.

Canyonlands National Park is one of the best places to see stars. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Wonderly/National Park Service

Canyonlands National Park is one of the best places to see stars. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Wonderly/National Park Service

National Park Service scientist Dan Duriscoe used much of his field work in over 100 national parks to bring a wealth of ground information to the study. As he noted:

“Few places on Earth offer pristine dark views to the rising Milky Way and starry constellations and light pollution is a bright filter upon this vast canvas. Verification of NPS ground measurements with satellite data from NOAA creates an accurate model for predicting night sky quality in national parks and locations around the world, which can be used to increase opportunities for park visitors and stargazers to enjoy this rare and diminishing resource.”

National parks like Capital Reef, Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands are found to be in the darkest place in the United States — also known as the Colorado Plateau. So go ahead and use these models, along with an interactive one here, to maximize your starry night time viewing this summer.

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