A Glimpse of Night
High elevation parks like Cedar Breaks National Monument aren’t the only places that the rangers take the night sky seriously. Even in Zion Canyon, the night sky is a big deal. In fact, the International Dark Sky Association granted Zion certification as an International Dark Sky Park in 2021, earning their certification due to the exceptional quality of its night skies and their massive efforts to reduce light pollution in and around park buildings and facilities.
Not surprisingly, astronomy programs are becoming more popular among national park visitors. The popularity of these programs has helped educate visitors of the value of dark night skies.
Continued funding for the Dark Sky project ensures that dark sky interns have the tools to develop and lead on-site programs alongside rangers and scientists. Interns collaborate with park scientists to establish the future directions of astronomy activities and research within the park, as well as including the night sky perspective of Zion‘s ancestral tribe, the Southern Paiute.
Dark sky monitoring is another task headed by VIP interns. The intern will use monitoring information to write Zion’s annual dark sky status report to submit to the International Dark-Sky Association. Additionally, the intern will serve as a national park liaison to Springdale, Zion’s gateway community, helping the town administration understand the need for artificial light management in protecting the region‘s dark sky. The intern will also assist in creating scientific content for the park’s social media channels and updating the park’s website with data and outstanding photos of the park’s night sky.
Zion takes its dark sky seriously. Its inclusion as an International Dark Sky Park was no easy feat and it remains committed to modernizing infrastructure through the park to better protect the night sky. Your funding will provide the resources required for a dark sky interpretive scientist intern to help lead monitoring and programming efforts that will benefit park administration and visitors alike.