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Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park awarded ‘dark sky’ designation

night sky

The night sky at Upper Lake.

The International Dark-Sky Association last week recognized the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park with provisional status as a new International Dark Sky Park through their certification program.
The Peace Park promotes responsible night-time lighting, which improves the night environment for wildlife, protects dark observing sites for astronomy and provides accessible locations for the public to experience naturally dark and exceptionally starry night skies.
The Peace Park is the first trans-boundary park certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Parks Canada and the U.S. National Parks Service collaborated on the application for this distinction, in keeping with the peace park’s tradition of cooperation.
The two agencies have been working towards achieving Dark Sky designation for the past 10 years.
Parks Canada is installing dark sky-compliant lighting in the Waterton community and other areas in Waterton Lakes National Park as part of infrastructure projects over the next three years.
New development permits in the park also require that lighting be dark sky-compliant.
For visitors, Parks Canada offers dark sky theatre programs and stargazing through telescopes at special events, led by staff and volunteer astronomers.
Night sky quality surveys indicate Cameron Lake, Red Rock Canyon, Logan’s Pass and the Bison Paddock are some of the darkest places in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, providing excellent opportunities to view night skies.
Natural dark skies are important for wildlife. Nocturnal mammals adapt their behaviour over the month to changes in moonlight to avoid predators.
More than 80 per cent of Canadians live in population centres.
Urban sky glow overwhelms faint stars, and glare from light fixtures prevents our eyes from adapting to the dark.
This limits the number of stars visible from cities from many thousands to only a few hundred.
Throughout recorded history, astronomy has been the focus of stories and mythologies.
All civilizations have constellations and star patterns woven into their culture.

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