Cape Lookout Named First International Dark Sky Park Along Atlantic Coast | News

HARKERS ISLAND – Cape Lookout National Seashore has been certified as the first International Dark Sky Park on the Atlantic Coast.

Cape Lookout’s National Park Service and the International Dark Sky Association announced Wednesday that the Cape has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park. The certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the night sky and the opportunities for astronomical experiences for visitors to the park. Cape Lookout is the first dark sky location on the NPS Atlantic Coast to receive this certification.

IDSA Director of Conservation Ashley Wilson said the organization is proud to include Cape Lookout in its program.

“Not only are they another outstanding unit of the National Park Service that understands and fully engages in the Dark Sky efforts, but they also visibly demonstrate the balance between the efficient use of light and coexistence with the environment. natural and nocturnal with their lighting decisions. Ms. Wilson said. “While the majority of the park’s lighting is compatible with the starry sky, the demonstration is most notable with the IDA Fixture Seal of Approval fixtures using adaptive controls at the Core Sound Museum and Heritage Center.”

NPS Cape Lookout Superintendent Jeff West said this certification is “an honor to our community and recognition of the unique values ​​that make this park a national treasure.”

“Getting into this project helped me remember the wonder and astonishment I felt when looking at the night sky as a child,” Mr. West said. “The possibilities I imagined then are still there, eclipsing the daily demands of life when put into perspective. Maybe we all need a little stargazing right now.

Cape Lookout received certification after a rigorous two-year application process that required support from partners such as Crystal Coast Stargazers, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center and the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. This required an assessment of the lighting fixtures in the park and its surroundings. In some cases, the fixtures have been modernized or replaced to meet the requirements. Finally, certification required the development of a plan to maintain outdoor lighting in the future, to protect the park’s dark skies for the benefit of the next generation of night sky enthusiasts.

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center Executive Director Karen Amspacher said the project has been “a learning process for all of us”.

“We are very honored to be a part of this new appreciation of our natural world for locals, visitors and students,” Ms. Amspacher said. “Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this a reality for County Down East Carteret, the first on the East Coast. “

Carteret County Chamber of Commerce chairman Tom Kies said the chamber is delighted to be associated with the certification.

“It gives people another reason to come and visit the Crystal Coast,” Kies said. “What a wonderful gift to have a breathtaking view of the universe from our little corner of paradise. ”

In support of dark sky conservation and education, the Cape Lookout NPS, in partnership with Crystal Coast Stargazers, regularly presents astronomy programs allowing the public to experience the eastern county night sky. from Carteret and the southern Outer Banks region. Programs include presentations designed to educate about the effect of light pollution and ways to minimize it.

Crystal Coast Stargazers club coordinator David Heflin said the partnership with the NPS has been “a way to give back to the park which has provided so many enjoyable hours of stargazing for our club members.”

“Now everyone will be aware of the nocturnal treasure we have here on the North Carolina coast,” Heflin said.

The International Dark Sky Places program was founded in 2001 as a non-regulatory, voluntary program to encourage communities, parks and protected areas to preserve dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally friendly outdoor lighting environment and public education.

“Cape Lookout National Seashore now joins over 190 locations that have demonstrated strong community support for Dark Sky Defense and work to protect night time from light pollution,” the NPS said.

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