Ready for some stellar stargazing during International Dark Sky Week (April 5-12, 2021)? Look no further than Antelope Island State Park!
Utah is home to 21 dark sky places out of just 90 around the world – and we’re fortunate to have one right here in Davis! Antelope Island was designated an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association in 2017 (and is one of only two Urban Adjacent Dark Sky Parks in Utah!)
What is a Dark Sky Place and why is it important?
Dark Sky Park status means that these areas have been officially recognized for their spectacular starry night skies and lack of light pollution. Utah leads the world in dark sky places thanks to its naturally dark areas but also due to land managers and local communities that value dark skies and work hard to protect these areas.
Antelope Island Assistant Park Manager Wendy Wilson recently spoke with International Traveller for their Insider’s Guide to North America about why Utah is home to the most IDA-certified dark places and why dark skies are so important. “A dark sky place is an area that has been noted and protected to provide a quality dark sky environment,” she says. “There is limited light pollution from within or from outside the area and these areas provide not only great views of the night sky, but naturally dark nocturnal habitats.”
Light pollution comes from artificial light sources – often from nearby cities – and it isn’t just bad for stargazing. It’s also bad for the environment. Evidence shows that living in bright areas can affect nocturnal wildlife behavior and even human circadian rhythm. Fortunately, light pollution is reversible with just a few simple changes:
- Use light only where you need it.
- Use light only when you need it.
- Shield lights and direct them downward.
- Use the minimum amount of light necessary.
- Select warmer white light bulbs.
Enjoying Antelope Island’s Dark Sky
People often travel great distances to get away from city lights and see a starry night sky. But because of Antelope Island’s location on the vast Great Salt Lake, the park is an easily accessible location for stargazing and dark skies. While the park is not currently hosting live stargazing parties, visitors are welcome to stargaze on their own. Be sure to check for updates on when Summer Star Parties may resume in the future.
When is the best time to travel to see the Utah night skies at their best?
The stars and constellations are typically brighter in winter, and early summer is best for viewing the Milky Way but any clear night is wonderful for stargazing on Antelope Island. In fact, the west side of the island is the darkest spot in all of Davis County!
Celebrate International Dark Sky Week with Antelope Island
Antelope Island is virtually celebrating dark skies all week April 5-12, 2021 with online workshops, star parties and activities on Facebook Live presented together with the International Dark Sky Association and other partners throughout the state. From film screenings and telescope tips to astrophotography and virtual star parties, see the full list of events here.
Don’t miss: Star Hopping with Wendy, Antelope Island State Park’s Assistant Manager, for a virtual tour through the night sky using the very handy app Stellarium!
When: Saturday, April 10th | 6:00 p.m.