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Light pollution happens when an abundance of artificial sources impact our outdoor surroundings. Wildlife, humans, and of course the visibility of the night sky are all impacted. However, communities have taken notice, and around the world, various destination are now official Dark Sky locations thanks to efforts and special lighting that reduces the negative effects of industrial fixtures. We’ve compiled a list from around the globe of places with so little light pollution, you can truly experience the wonder of the stars and planets.
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Oak Creek Village, Arizona
A small community just outside of Sedona (which is another top destination for stargazing), Oak Creek Village boasts stargazing spots that are just as gorgeous as its more well-known neighbor. Travelers who want to bypass crowds often decide to explore this worthy Arizona nook, as iconic red rock formations, hiking trails and a more chill vibe are characteristics of Big Park.
Beverly Shores, Indiana
Beverly Shores, Indiana is known for its nationally protected lakeshore on the waters of Lake Michigan and being a designated Dark Sky community. Experts and enthusiasts gather in the parking lot of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore‘s Kemil Beach, where sightings of the Milky Way and Saturn are at their best. The absence of artificial lighting from street lamps make this a favorite location in all of Beverly Shores.
Bon Accord, Canada
Bon Accord is located in Alberta, Canada, but has remained primarily underdeveloped—in a good way. The green land is used for agriculture, and the community takes pride in its efforts to reduce light pollution. The result of all the hard work is a night sky that lights up like a Christmas display. Cities aren’t too far away, so travelers can make the trek just for some stargazing when the sun goes down.
Fulda is a riverside city in central Germany, which is nestled between the Rhön and Vogelsberg mountains. Posing difficulties to nearby Rhön International Dark Sky Reserve, Fulda set into action efforts to reduce artificial light, but then ended up becoming its own designated Dark Sky community. Ecotourism collides seamlessly with the age-old architecture and modern life of this trailblazing destination.
Horseshoe Bay, Texas
One of the best stargazing spots in Texas, Horseshoe Bay is only 50 miles from Austin but seems like a world away. The resort land turned retirement community is well known, at least among many Texans, as a place to enjoy constellations. Street lights are nowhere to be found, and neither is an abundance of corporate chain structures. The lakeside location enhances the natural beauty residents work hard to preserve.
Ketchum is positioned centrally in Idaho and is home to the great Sun Valley Resort, where world-class skiing and cozy lodges await. The town itself is adorable, very “local” oriented with small elegant eateries, cafes, and one well-stocked grocery store. All of it is picture-perfect, from unindustrialized curb appeal to the twinkling display above. Tip: Hotel Ketchum offers mountain view rooms with huge windows perfect for stargazing from bed.
Moffat, Scotland sits scenically on a river (great for fishing) in southern Scotland, and historically is known for a sheep herding past and now burned down spa facilities. Nature and architecture remain, with the outskirts and town center being very walkable. Moffat nabs the title “Europe’s First Dark Sky Town”, as special consideration went into providing street lights that didn’t hinder the visibility of the night sky.
Møn, Denmark is actually an island and is a UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Baltic Sea. The unmistakable slice of land is distinct thanks to stark chalk cliffs that hover over the turquoise ocean. On land, things become further diverse along the countryside. Despite that tourists have definitely taken notice of this magical place, a Dark Sky status has been obtained and maintained for all who visit to enjoy. Stege is a go-to tourism town on the island, with restaurants, history and seasonal festivals.
Have you ever heard of Niue? It’s a microscopic “island country” Northeast of New Zealand. And while not as big as some tropical paradises, it measures up, and then some. Colorful reefs for diving, fossilized coral pathways, green foliage and caves that meet the ultra-blue waters can give one a vague idea of the level of beauty on peaceful Niue. But words cannot do it justice alone. Learning about the tropical landscape, it’s mind-blowing to discover that this is also not just a Dark Sky community, but in a sense, as a Dark Sky nation.
Sark, Channel Islands
Roman occupation, Viking raids, connection to the British crown—this European Island dates back as far as the Stone Age. Sark is part of the Channel Islands, which are just off the coast of France. The island contrasts with perfection against the sea, and the general nature of life here will help travelers understand why everything is pure and unspoiled. Cars are not allowed, and incredible rugged paths and horse-drawn carriages are primary traveling methods.