When all of Idaho’s smoke clears, you’ll have a chance to see the stars from our state’s newly designated International Dark Sky Park at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
The International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit that fights light pollution, granted Craters of the Moon its silver-tier park status thanks to an application from Craters superintendent Wade Vagias submitted in January. IDA says that designation applies to “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”
“The Milky Way stretching across the park’s incredibly dark night sky is a sight many visitors will never forget,” Vagias said in an IDA release. “With this designation, the International Dark-Sky Association recognizes the importance of the natural darkness found here.”
The designation has no legal standing in terms of protecting the monument, though Vagias in his application said Craters officials are dedicated to keeping the central Idaho area a prime spot for dark-sky education.
What makes Craters such an excellent stargazing spot? The park’s lighting fixtures are specially designed to point light downward, reducing the amount of light pollution hitting the night sky. The park also offers a whole host of night sky viewing events for visitors.
And, if stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts have their way, it won’t be the only dark-sky preserve in Idaho for long. Last month, groups gathering in Stanley to watch the solar eclipse used the celestial event to lobby for protections against light pollution in that area, too.
Craters may be Idaho’s first such park, but it joins the ranks of several others in nearby Utah.