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Dark Sky Month begins today

Apr 1, 2022, 1:58 PM | Updated: 2:11 pm
East Canyon State Park Dark Sky Month...
Milky Way over wagons at East Canyon State Park. Photo credit: Dark Sky Volunteer Ryan Andreasen

SALT LAKE CITY — As April begins, the Utah Office of Tourism celebrates the official Dark Sky Month. 

Gov. Spencer Cox declared April as Dark Sky Month for the second year in a row.

 

“Dark skies are integral to the well-being of many animal and plant species and are demonstrated to have positive health impacts to human beings,” Gov. Spencer J. Cox said in his declaration of Dark Sky Month.

“We wish to recognize the efforts and advocacy of federal, state, local and nonprofit agencies as well as Utah’s recreation, tourism and education sectors which make night sky opportunities in our state available for all to enjoy,” Cox added.

What does Dark Sky mean?

Utah has 24 Dark Sky designated places according to the Office of Tourism. The designation comes from the International Dark Sky Association. The association’s mission is to “protect the night from light pollution,” according to its website.

The association determines Dark Sky Places by looking at a location’s community and its efforts to protect Dark Skies. The process to become Dark Sky Certified is based on other conservation and environmental designation programs, according to the association’s website.

Certified places “help[s] enhance the visibility of designated locations and foster increased tourism and local economic activity,” according to the association. 

Utah has the highest concentration of Dark Sky Places in the world, according to the tourism office. 

The office highlighted the importance dark skies have on the state’s economy, specifically astrotourism. Austrotourism is something that can add value to the tourism, hospitality, and leisure business, according to the office. The office added that astrotourism is expected to bring almost $6 billion to the Southwestern United States over the next decade. It is also expected to employ more than 113,000 workers over the next decade.

The office said astrotourism can include guided stargazing, dark sky photography, and star parties.

“Having the most certified dark skies in the world is one of the many ways that Utah is precious,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. “All precious things require stewardship so that we can enjoy them now and also protect them for future generations to enjoy.”

Seeing dark skies in Utah

The Office of Tourism invited Utah residents and visitors to enjoy the view of a dark sky in order to celebrate Dark Sky Month. 

The office maintains a dark sky webpage that lists the locations available in Utah. Among them are East Canyon State Park, Timpanogas Cave National Monument, and Arches National Park.

Each location has information on visiting and available activities beyond dark sky viewing.

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Dark Sky Month begins today