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Death Valley Named World's Largest Dark Sky Park; to Host 2nd Annual 'Mars Fest' March 1-3

Wondering where to visit for good views of the night sky?

The nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association just added Death Valley National Park to its “gold tier” list, the group’s loftiest designation for sites that provide star-filled nighttime canopies.

Also on the IDA’s gold list:
Big Bend National Park in Texas (a 2012 honoree)
Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah (2006).


Milky Way and stars over Death Valley's Racetrack Playa, shown in a composite image from 30 photos. (NPS photo: Dan and Cindy Duriscoe; learn more via NASA)

Two state parks have also earned gold status: Cherry Springs in north-central Pennsylvania (east-southeast of Erie), and Clayton Lake in the northeast corner of New Mexico. Both are included on one site's list of stellar skywatching locations.

Death Valley, which somehow manages to maintain dark skies despite sitting between the mega-kilowatt glowsticks of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is the largest park—roughly 3,000 square miles—in the IDA’s constellation of dark sky parks.

One of its coolest events is coming up next weekend: Death Valley’s second annual Mars Fest, March 1-3, where visiting scientists offer workshops that examine how closely Death Valley may resemble Martian landscapes. Check out the list of events. One can't-miss highlight: telescope viewing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 2.

Wondering where other interesting nighttime activities at national parks are scheduled? This site, Night Sky Parks and its very handy calendar, is a terrific resource.


The night sky above Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. (NPS photo: Dan Duriscoe)

Speaking of dark skies, check out this otherwise unrelated yet lovely clip of nighttime footage captured from the (really) dark skies over the African nation of Namibia:

Where’s your favorite spot to soak up night-sky scenery?

Posted on at 9:00 AM

Tagged: International Dark Sky Association, International Dark Sky Park, Mars, dark skies, death valley, night sky and stargazing

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no comments yet? the best places I have seen the night sky was fairfield Iowa, in the corn fields, and high elevation in Peru, an hour or so outside lima

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