Look up at the sky in most big cities and you can spot 500 or so stars — and that’s on a good night. But what happens when you tilt your head back in a designated dark sky park? It’s twinkle, twinkle lots of stars. In fact, in a dark sky park, you can see as many as 15,000 stars, according to the National Park Service.
At Livability, we specialize in small to mid-sized cities, spotlighting everything from their tight-knit communities to their hot job prospects. Now, during International Dark Skies Week (April 15 - 21), we’re recognizing some of those cities around the U.S. that offer residents and visitors a very special amenity: epic stargazing.
Why are dark skies important? Flashy billboards, street lights and other forms of artificial light common in big cities not only obscures our views of starry skies, all that light can also disrupt eco-systems. That’s because wildlife depends on Earth’s light-dark cycle to cue everything from reproductive patterns to protecting themselves from predators.
Some cities have chosen to limit excessive artificial lighting outdoors. Consider it conservation efforts for the night sky, with the International Dark-Sky Association and communities across the United States working together to prevent light pollution and earning an official Dark Sky Designation in the process.
Here are six star-studded communities across the United States that are going to infinity and beyond to protect their night skies, and, because of that, are truly remarkable places to stargaze.