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International Dark Sky Week Starts Next Week, Here Are 12 Of The Best Events Around The World

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dark sky in Virginia (Photo Credit: TempleNick / Shutterstock.com)

When people think of pollution, they usually think about the air and water. There’s another type of pollution, however, that is also harmful.

“Any artificial light that is not needed is a pollutant that has serious and harmful consequences,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). “Light pollution can disrupt wildlife, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view of the universe.”

The IDA works “to protect night from light pollution” by advocating for and promoting lighting that efficiently lights outdoor areas yet still allows people to appreciate the dark, star-filled sky.

However, light pollution is only getting worse, according to IDA. The association’s research shows that 83 percent of the global population now “lives under a light-polluted sky.”

To help address the problem, the IDA hosts what’s known as International Dark Sky Week every April to raise awareness about light pollution’s harmful effects. This year, International Dark Sky Week will last from April 22–30, coinciding with Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

There are a number of goals for the week, including, of course, learning how everyone can do more to decrease light pollution. Another goal is for people to attend events, often hosted by local IDA chapters, to learn about the night sky’s stars and constellations.

Here are 12 events that will be held during International Dark Sky Week.

1. Lyrid Meteor Shower Live Stream

International Dark-Sky Association

On April 22 at 8:30 a.m., the IDA will live-stream the annual Lyrid meteor shower at Tibetan Plateau. The live stream, which will last approximately 4 hours, can be seen on the IDA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

You can learn more about the event here.

2. Dark Sky Event And Stargazing With Telescopes

Fremont Indian State Park, Sevier, Utah

The event, on April 22, will begin at 8 p.m. with a dark sky program, followed by stargazing with telescopes. Participants can even bring their own telescopes, binoculars, and cameras to the event. There will be a day-use fee of $10 per vehicle.

You can learn more about the event here.

3. Dark Skies Exhibit

Santa Ysabel Nature Center, Santa Ysabel, California

On April 22, nature center staff will project images of nighttime photography taken by local astronomers on a big screen. The event will run all day.

You can learn more about the event here.

4. One Dark Hour Event

Fairfax County Park Authority, Fairfax, Virginia

All you need to do to participate in One Dark Hour is simply turn off your outdoor lights between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, April 22. “We encourage you to tell your neighbors to magnify the effect,” according to the Fairfax County Park Authority. “While the lights are out, please look up at the sky and see what you might have been missing.”

You can learn more about the event here.

5. Dark Sky Night: Lyrid Meteor Shower

Natural Bridge State Park, Natural Bridge, Virginia

Visitors will be able to meet with a park ranger and astronomy volunteers on April 22 to learn about the night sky, discuss light pollution, and watch the Lyrid meteor shower. The event, which is free, will run from 8–10:30 p.m.

You can learn more about the event here.

6. Learn About Light Pollution

Municipal Library And Reading Room, Jelsa, Croatia

Attendees can visit an exhibition hosted by the Croatian Astronomical Union to learn about light pollution and steps they can take to make changes. The event will be held all week, beginning April 22, to coincide with International Dark Sky Week.

You can learn more about the event here.

7. International Dark Sky Evening

Clear Hills County, Alberta, Canada

Horse Trekking Adventures invites people to an event held in an open field on April 22, beginning at 9:20 p.m., to enjoy the beauty of the night sky away from outdoor lights. Visitors will be able to learn about stars, constellations, planets, and the effects of light pollution.

You can learn more about the event here.

8. Stargazing

Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

Public stargazing, using astronomy club members’ telescopes, will begin at 8 p.m. from April 22–23 at the visitor center on Harkers Island. This event is free.

Visitors can also take a 2-hour starlight cruise to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The cruise, which costs $27, will leave at 7:30 p.m. on both nights.

You can learn more about both events here.

9. Lyrid Meteor Shower Viewing

Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, Virginia

The Friends of Sky Meadows fundraiser will begin at 7:00 p.m. on both April 22 and 23 with a kid-friendly lesson about nocturnal animals found in Sky Meadows. After that, visitors will learn about how they can reduce light pollution before watching the Lyrid meteor shower with members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club. Tickets are $30 per vehicle.

You can learn more about the event here.

10. Medicine Rocks State Park Pop-Up Exhibition

Medicine Rocks State Park And Carter County Museum, Ekalaka, Montana

The pop-up style display at the Carter County Museum has panels explaining light pollution and prehistoric and modern nocturnal life in the Medicine Rocks area. Other panels explain the International Dark Sky places program. The event, which will run from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on April 23, is free.

You can learn more about the event here.

11. Starry Night Hike

Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Management Area, Dubuque, Iowa

Dubuque County Conservation members will first lead a discussion about light pollution and how it negatively affects animals. After that, they will lead a night hike so participants can enjoy the night sky. The event will run from 7:30–9 p.m. on April 23.

You can learn more about the event here.

12. The Park After Dark

Everglades National Park, Miami Dade County, Florida

Stargazing and educational activities will be held at the Shark Valley Visitor Center on April 30. Telescopes will be provided.

More details will be available later. Be sure to check here for updates.

Other Events

Many state and national parks are certified as International Dark Sky Places by the IDA. The certification “recognizes the exceptional quality of the night skies of the park and the opportunities it provides for astronomy-based experiences for park visitors.” Be sure to check with state and national parks in your area because many of them may be hosting events as well.

For example, Natural Bridge State Park, one of Virginia’s many Dark Sky Parks, is hosting a Lyrid meteor shower observation on Friday, April 22. Other International Dark Sky Week events will include a “Learn About Light Pollution” session on Sunday, April 24, and a self-guided dark sky night at Jefferson Point on Tuesday, April 26. You can learn more about those events and others here.

Learn how to find International Dark Sky Places in your area or areas you plan to visit here.

While you’re thinking about places with dark skies, be sure to read all of our stargazing content, including:

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