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National Monument Certified as International Dark Sky Park

Certification Promotes Public Education

The Milky Way and a sky full of stars as seen above the adobe ruins at Fort Union National Monument. Photo: Harun Mehmedinovic

The National Park Service and the International Dark Sky Association have announced Fort Union National Monument as an International Dark Sky Park. The certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park's night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy based interpretive programming, according to the NPS.

"We are very proud of Fort Union's Dark Sky designation," said Fort Union superintendent, Lorenzo Vigil. "At a time when fewer and fewer people are able to enjoy the wonders of a dark night sky, Fort Union is well positioned to offer that opportunity to the public. National parks are some of the best places in America to see a breathtaking array of stars, planets, and neighboring galaxies."

Fort Union, which is located 150 miles from Albuquerque, N.M., and 90 miles from Santa Fe, N.M., offers nearby urban populations a marvelous opportunity to enjoy pristine viewing of the celestial heavens. The monument was once the largest U.S. Army fort in the Southwest, and now preserves the largest collection of 19th-century adobe buildings in the country. It now joins more than 100 locations that have followed a rigorous application process that demonstrates robust community support for dark sky certification.

According to the NPS, International Dark Sky certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority. The certification demonstrates a commitment by parks to improve night skies through the use of more energy efficient, sustainable lighting. 

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education.

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January 18, 2020, 5:18 am PDT

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