Newport State Park Designated Wisconsin’s First International Dark Sky Park
Newport State Park has been officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park at the Silver level by unanimous vote of the Board of Directors of the International Dark-Sky Association or IDA. The IDA is an organization formed to promote the preservation of the night sky for the reasons mentioned above. The dedication ceremony was held on June 22, 2017 at the park. For more information, please click on the links below.
What is it?
Artificial lights make the night sky so bright that 80% of North Americans can no longer see the Milky Way, especially in the eastern U.S. In addition to blocking the wonders of the night sky with artificial sky glow, poorly designed outdoor lights interfere with nocturnal wildlife, they waste energy by sending light where and when it’s not needed, and they create hazardous glare for both drivers and pedestrians. Visitors to northern Door County often come from metropolitan regions where dark skies no longer exist. When they leave their last venue of the day and step out into a dark and clear Door County night sky, they frequently express amazement at the brilliance of the stars.
What does it mean for Newport?
Newport State Park is especially blessed with a location that showcases the night sky. With no nearby commercial development on land, and the dark waters of Lake Michigan along the shore, the park is extremely dark by nature. In addition, both the waters of Lake Michigan and the many trees present in the park contribute to stable local atmospheric conditions that astronomers call “good seeing”. A stable atmosphere reduces the scintillation or “twinkling” of stars. This is especially important when viewing a star or a planet through a telescope. “Bad seeing” results from atmospheric turbulence and causes the telescopic image to bounce around, making it very hard to view the object.