Dark sky tourism on the rise in the US

Published on : Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Milky Way has inspired humans for centuries. But with light pollution making it hard to figure out where to go stargazing, more US states are coming forward to protect the future of their night skies.

Last month, Nevada’s Senate passed a bill recognizing the state’s “dark sky places,” where views of the galaxies attract thousands of visitors per year. If this law comes into existence, Bill 52 will create a program to help locations find the way of earning a new state-level “dark sky” designation and also support environmental conservation and the local economy.

The proposed program follows the footsteps of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), an Arizona-based organization that chooses and protects dark skies around the world. The IDA’s mission is a significant accomplishment, since light pollution is now increasing by more than 2 percent each year—doubling the rate of population growth.

To quote John Barentine, the director of public policy at IDA, “In some places, it’s just dawning on people that if they go outside and look at the night sky, the stars are missing. They’re discovering the phenomenon of light pollution, maybe for the first time.”

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