Minnesota recently obtained its first-ever certified International Dark Sky Park designation, giving people the perfect space for stargazing in one of the country’s most northerly areas. Voyageurs National Park, located in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border, was recognized for its dark skies, perfect for stargazing, and awarded the “International Dark Sky Park” designation.
To qualify as a Dark Sky Park, the International Dark-Sky Association asks applicants to creatively address light pollution, like installing energy efficient light and creating public education initiatives about the night sky. Voyageurs National Park met these requirements, retrofitting existing exterior light fixtures across the park with sustainable lighting and promoting a range of educational programs. The park currently hosts a virtual Night Sky Explorer program, and an additional virtual learning program is currently in the planning stages for US classrooms.
Conservancy executive director Christina Hausman Rhode told Lonely Planet, “Becoming an official Dark Sky Park means the Park and the Conservancy will further prioritize the preservation of darkness at the park for wildlife and people, as well as the development of dark sky education that shares the cultural stories connected to our starry skies and the actions everyone can take, whether they are at home or camping in the park, to keep the night dark.”