Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument have been designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), making it only the second of its kind in the National Park Service and the first certified in Maine and New England. The Sanctuary designation recognizes the monument’s exceptionally natural dark night skies, a rarity today.
“This designation is the culmination of a long-term effort by a dedicated group of people and is an exciting event in the short history of the monument,” said Katahdin Woods and Waters Superintendent Tim Hudson. “Experiencing the night skies here will take you back in time to the night skies first experienced by the Wabanaki 11,000 years ago and the many people who have followed in their footsteps since, including John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, and others.”
Having naturally dark night skies with minimal light pollution aligns with the monument’s larger objective when established in 2016: to protect and preserve the extraordinary environment of mountains, woods and waterways that makes up Katahdin Woods and Waters. The area’s breathtaking night skies showcase stars, planets and occasional displays of aurora borealis, but those aren’t the only aspects that make it a scenic getaway. The diverse geology, vegetation and wildlife also attract visitors.
The International Dark Sky Place Program was established by IDA in 2001 to encourage the global protection of naturally dark night skies through responsible lighting, public outreach and education.
A celebration for the designation is scheduled during the seventh annual Stars Over Katahdin event on September 12. The event, organized by Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, provides insight into the monument’s dark skies and the continued preservation efforts of the National Park Service and International Dark-Sky Association. A virtual version is also being prepared in the event an in-person gathering is not advisable at that time.
Photo Credit: John Meader/Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
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