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Starry, starry nights: Keweenaw Dark Sky Park fully endorsed

Milky Way is seen over the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. The Mountain Lodge is the headquarters of the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park.

It’s official! The Keweenaw Dark Sky Park received its full endorsement certification Tuesday.

After over a year of going through the endorsement process with the International Dark Sky Association, this lookout location at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor is in pristine condition and open to visitors.  

“The Dark Sky Park is part of the International Dark Sky Association. That association has been around since the 1990s and their goal is to have places where they’re minimizing light pollution and also to inform people about light pollution and how it affects our world,” Chris Guibert of the Outdoor Activity Center said.  

He explained the process they took in order to become endorsed and everything they had to alter to accomplish this goal. 

“For us, that involved changing a lot of the outdoor lighting of the lodge and the cabins. So every single outside light, we addressed. We changed the lights so that they pointed down in an attempt to minimize light pollution in that area. Also, the color and light temperature and how bright those lights are needed to be altered,” he said.

International Dark Sky Parks are not as common as you may think. It is rare to find a spot nowadays that is not heavily affected by light pollution. Knowing how rare the Keweenaw is in this way, it was their goal to maintain this so that generation after generation, people will be able to see the night sky in its full beauty. 

“We are one of 200 places around the world that are listed as an International Dark Sky Park. And I think we are also one of the first private businesses to ever become one,” he added.

Part of what they have been working on is providing educational opportunities for people. There are many lessons to be learned from the stars.     

“We’ve been doing night sky photography workshops every month around the new moon as part of our programming,” Guibert said. Their next Night Sky Photography Workshop is coming up from 9 to 11 p.m. June 18.   

They’re currently curating some ideas for upcoming events and educational seminars, too. This past spring, they hosted the first Upper Peninsula Dark Sky Festival. They brought in speakers from around the region to get people excited about the night sky and also to talk about light pollution. 

Reflecting on their first full year since the endorsement, Guibert stated, “It’s just been great. I mean we’re seeing a lot of guests staying at the lodge, specifically for stargazing in the night sky. I just think that if people have an awareness of the night sky, then they’re also a little bit more environmentally aware and aware of the natural world around them,” he said.

He mentioned that a lot of the people he has met had similar reasons for making the trip up there. They usually say it is because they currently live in a city or an urban area where they cannot see the stars anymore due to the light pollution in those areas. He has also heard many people say that they would like to view the stars like they did when they were children, back when everything was brighter and magical.

The Dark Sky Park is thrilled to be able to provide that experience for so many people.

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