MOAB — Arches National Park is the latest Utah place to be certified as somewhere you can see a truly dark night sky.
The park has been recognized as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association, according to a Friday news release from the National Park Service.
“I am grateful that the International Dark-Sky Association has recognized the southeast Utah parks’ efforts to share spectacular dark skies with the public,” park superintendent Kate Cannon said in the release. “The certification for Arches is the culmination of more than 10 years’ effort to preserve and share dark night skies in southeast Utah.”
Park officials plan to celebrate the designation with a “star party” on Sept. 21, according to the release. It will be held at the newly constructed stargazing area at Panorama Point in the central part of the park.
Dark sky parks are public or private areas that have good outdoor lighting and provide dark sky programming for visitors, according to the International Dark-Sky Association website.
Rangers at Arches have been leading regular astronomy programs and other night sky events since at least 2012, according to the release. Additionally, nearly all of the light fixtures in the park follow the International Dark-Sky Association’s guidelines for night-sky-friendly lighting, according to the release.
The dark sky certification will give park officials more support to grow those programs, as well as grow the astronomy-based tourism industry in the area, the release states.
The three other National Park Service sites in southeast Utah — Canyonlands National Park and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments — also have been certified as International Dark Sky Parks.
Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County also was recently certified as a dark sky park in April.
The other International Dark Sky Parks in Utah include:
- Antelope Island State Park (Davis County)
- Capitol Reef National Park (Wayne, Garfield, Sevier and Emery counties)
- Cedar Breaks National Monument (Iron County)
- Dead Horse Point State Park (Grand County)
- Goblin Valley State Park (Emery County)
- North Fork Park (Weber County)
- Steinaker State Park (Uintah County)
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article indicated Dinosaur National Monument was in Duchesne County. It has been corrected to reflect that the monument is in Uintah County.