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Science and Innovations

Grand Canyon Earns Provisional Status as Dark Sky Park

U.S. National Park Service

Grand Canyon National Park has earned provisional status as an International Dark Sky Park.

The designation is awarded by the International Dark Sky Association to places that combat light pollution. Officials have three years to retrofit Grand Canyon National Park’s light fixtures. It will then join five other dark-sky parks in the state.  

Jane Rodgers is the deputy chief for science and research management at Grand Canyon National Park. She says the designation is an opportunity to educate five million visitors annually about dark skies.

“Much of our wildlife at Grand Canyon is nocturnal, and really relies on clear and high-quality night skies for navigating and pollinating and foraging,” Rodgers says. “In addition to that we’re also looking at energy efficiency and cost savings through better and improved smart lighting.”

Currently less than half of the Grand Canyon’s 5,000 light fixtures meet the criteria for dark sky-friendly lighting. The National Park Service plans to bring that number to two-thirds by 2019. 

The announcement comes during the Grand Canyon’s annual star party, which takes place this week every night until June 11.

Find other dark-sky places with this interactive map.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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