The Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky has been recognized as an International Dark Sky Park.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization that was discovered in 1988 by astronomers David Crawford and Tim Hunter.
The mission of IDA is to preserve the nighttime and dark skies. The non-profit celebrates the night sky while attempting to reduce the impact of light pollution.
In 2021, Mammoth Cave National Park was recognized by the IDA as one of the world's newest International Dark Sky Parks. It is the first Dark Sky Place in Kentucky to receive this designation.
The park had to undergo a rigorous application process and demonstrate their support for Dark Sky certification. Currently, there are over 60 Dark Sky Parks all over the United States.
With this distinction, Mammoth Cave National Park will be known for its quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment. The park aims to preserve the night sky by limiting light pollution and improving visitors' experience and enjoyment of the night at the park. The area will also be protected so that future generations can observe a more natural night sky.
Mammoth Cave is considered to be an ideal place in Kentucky for stargazing. No telescopes are required and the park states that the naked eye or binoculars are sufficient for observing the planets and constellations in the night sky. The International Space Station may also be visible from this spot.
The park has a night sky viewing station and provides outings for students. There are also opportunities for camping and gazing up at the stars.