A Dark Sky Shines Bright At Chaco Canyon

Apr 24, 2014


The dark sky at Chaco Culture National Historic Park is world-renowned for star gazing.
Credit Courtesy of NPS

There are almost 100 miles of rural uninhabited land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historic Park in North Western New Mexico. The area has long been known as an epic place to view the wonders of the night sky. On Thursday, the park is celebrating it's designation as an International Dark Sky Park.

With virutally zero light pollution around, once the sun sinks below the horizon, visitors are engulfed in utter darkness.

Christine Czazasty is the Chief of Interpretation at CCNHP and said that in order to receive the Dark Sky Designation, they had to come up with a light management plan which caused them to retrofit the very few outdoor lights they have.

"It has to be a warm light, and it has to be a certain amount of light that is given off," Czazasty explained. "Also, the fixtures have to be pointing the light down so it's not escaping."

Part of the mission at CCNHP is to preserve nocturnal ecosystems. That is part of the reason why there are no lights at all in more then 99 percent of the 40,000 acre park. 

There are just four other National Parks with the International Dark Sky designation in the country.