Winter is a great time to view dark skies

Known as the shortest day and longest night of the year, the December solstice is celebrated around the world as the first day of winter. What better way to use these extra dark hours than to gaze out into the Milky Way?

Less than 100 years ago, it was possible to see the galaxy arch peppered with planets, meteors, and stars from any city street. Today, however, the ability to stargaze in urban spaces is severely hampered by the presence of artificial light from buildings, street lamps and other human activity.

National Parks offer some of the best opportunities to appreciate night skies because many of them are being actively protected from the effects of light pollution. 

In some parks, it’s possible to see up to 15,000 stars throughout the night. By contrast, in urban environments, you may see fewer than 500 stars. Light pollution affects more than just astronomers. Nocturnal wildlife needs darkness for survival, and the circadian rhythms of humans and plants rely on an unaltered night sky.

Check out these Dark Sky Parks that National Park Trust has protected from light pollution for an unforgettable stargazing experience!

Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida

Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

Joshua Tree National Park in California

Hovenweep National Monument in Utah

Joshua Tree National Park