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Vignettes of the vast array of night sky scenes at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
Celebrated for their wild rivers, sheer masses of intricately-carved sandstone, fragile desert ecosystems rich in diversity, and well preserved records of the region’s historic human inhabitants, the national parks and monuments of the Colorado Plateau are a sanctuary for the American Southwest’s cultural and natural heritage. Also home to some of the darkest skies in the country, these national parks and monuments provide a place where visitors can experience our shared, universal heritage; the Milky Way’s silvery rainbow glittering against inky black. The magnificence of the cosmos has inspired humans for hundreds of years, but it is something that may never be experienced by our youngest generations.
Did you know that as many as 80 percent of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way from where they live? In large urban areas, the brilliance of the night sky is completely concealed by the non-natural light emitted by the city. In contrast, as many as 15,000 stars may be seen throughout the night at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and we have made a commitment to protect this precious, but rapidly disappearing, natural resource.
Why Do Dark Skies Matter?
Plants, animals, and human beings all depend on the cycles of light and dark to regulate the natural rhythms that govern life-sustaining processes. Most of the life on Earth adheres to a circadian rhythm, which can be disrupted by light at night. Light pollution–the inappropriate or excessive use of light at night – can affect an animal’s ability to reproduce, find nourishment, sleep and protect itself from predators. It also impacts a humans’ ability to produce melatonin, which keeps us healthy.
Learn more about the importance of dark skies and what parks are doing nationwide on the NPS Night Skies page.
Our Efforts to Stop Light Pollution
You may notice some of the exterior lighting around Glen Canyon National Recreation Area emits light that appears deep yellow, red or orange. This is because blue light brightens the night sky more than any other color, so we’re actively working to replace bulbs that produce a bluer spectrum with those that produce a “warmer” spectrum. In addition to the color of our light, we are also moving toward shielded exterior light fixtures which prevent light trespass.
What Can I Do To Help?
Unlike many other types of pollution, light pollution is totally reversible. Each time you turn off an exterior light, you’ve helped to decrease the amount light pollution being produced. Similarly, the next time one of the exterior lights on your home needs replaced, consider a fixture that only directs the light downward and prevents light for escaping up into the sky. You can learn more about dark-sky lighting principles by visiting the International Dark-Sky Association’s website.
Dark Sky News and Articles From Other Parks
Last updated: April 24, 2019