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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Waterton-Glacier receives Dark Sky Park designation

Upper Lake night sky - Parks Canada photo

Parks Canada - The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has recognized the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (W-GIPP) with provisional status as a new International Dark Sky Park through their certification program.

Parks Canada and the U.S. National Park Service are excited to announce the W-GIPP’s new designation. The Peace Park promotes responsible night-time lighting, which improves the night environment for wildlife, protects dark observing sites for astronomy and provides accessible locations for the public to experience naturally dark and exceptionally starry night skies.

The Peace Park is the first trans-boundary park certified by the IDA. Parks Canada and the U.S. National Parks Service collaborated on the application for this distinction, in keeping with the peace park’s tradition of cooperation. The two agencies have been working towards achieving Dark Sky designation for the W-GIPP for the past 10 years.

Parks Canada is installing dark sky-compliant lighting in the Waterton Community and others areas in Waterton Lakes National Park as part of infrastructure projects over the next three years. New development permits in the park also require that lighting be dark sky-compliant. For visitors, Parks Canada offers dark sky theatre programs and stargazing through telescopes at special events, led by staff and volunteer astronomers.

This designation showcases Parks Canada’s international leadership role in protecting and preserving the natural environment and providing exemplary visitor experiences. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, this designation is another way for Canadians to experience and learn more about our environment and our heritage.

Quick Facts
  • Night sky quality surveys indicate Cameron Lake, Red Rock Canyon, Logan’s Pass and the Bison Paddock are some of the darkest places in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, providing excellent opportunities to view night skies. 
  • Natural dark skies are important for wildlife. Nocturnal mammals adapt their behaviour over the month to changes in moonlight to avoid predators. 
  • Over 80 per cent of Canadians live in population centres. Urban sky glow overwhelms faint stars, and glare from light fixtures prevents our eyes from adapting to the dark. This limits the number of stars visible from cities from many thousands to only a few hundred. 
  • Throughout recorded history, astronomy has been the focus of stories and mythologies. All civilizations have constellations and star patterns woven into their culture. 

Related links:

· Waterton Lakes National Park - Stargazing

· Glacier National Park (U.S. NPS) – Night Sky

· International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)

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