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"Earth's Darkest Night Skies"
Posting by Staff
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Feb. 5, 2008

To see a truly dark night sky, with over 11,000 visible stars stargazers visit remote parks around a new moon, at a high altitude and in clear, cold weather. Death Valley National Park has the darkest night sky of all U.S. National Parks and based on computer models, Capital Reef, Utah has the darkest sky in the highly illuminated United States. Triglav National Park in Slovenia is one of the darkest regions in Europe.

Many regions of the earth are thinly populated and unlit. Antarctica is entirely dark. The interior jungles of Africa and South America are mostly dark, but lights are beginning to appear there. Deserts in Africa, Arabia, Australia, Mongolia, and the United States are poorly lit as well (except along the coast), along with the boreal forests of Canada and Russia, and the great mountains of the Himalaya. The world ocean covers over 71% of the Earth's surface. Dark skies can also be seen from many points at sea that are very far from any source of light pollution.

Click here to view the world's night sky from a U.S. defense satellite.

During the 1980s, a dark-sky movement was started to reduce light pollution. Many astronomers have been concerned about the nocturnal glow from urban areas that blots out the sight of stars. Light pollution is light that shines where it is neither needed nor wanted. Good lighting shines only onto the ground or where it is needed. Bad lighting shines outwards into homes, and upwards into the sky, disrupting nocturnal animal populations, wasting energy, contributing to global warming and creating an orange "smog" in the sky.

Death Valley National Park, darkest night sky of all U.S. National Parks




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