Want to stargaze? Kentucky park just got recognized for its ‘quality of night skies’

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Kentucky officially has a site committed to stargazing.

The International Dark-Sky Association recognized Mammoth Cave National Park for its “exceptional quality of night skies,” park officials announced Thursday.

The park was deemed an International Dark-Sky Park. It’s the first site in Kentucky to get the designation, according to the National Park Service.

“We hope that this designation will encourage the public to appreciate the vastness of not only the miles of deep underground passageways of Mammoth Cave, but also the beauty of the night sky above the park,” Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble said in a news release.

The application process to become an International Dark-Sky Park took several years.

Park officials reviewed 700 outdoor lights to make them more “dark-sky friendly.” They also planned to reduce outdoor lighting for future projects.

“The City of Park City has retrofitted the city’s entire street lighting system with Dark-Sky certified LED fixtures,” Bobby Bunnell, city clerk and treasurer, said in the news release. “This not only allowed the city to realize an almost 45% reduction in our monthly cost, but it generated a 65% savings of our monthly kWh energy usage.”

The International-Dark Sky Places Program started in 2001. The first place to receive certification was Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. Since then, more than 100 parks have been added.

Mammoth Cave is about 130 miles southwest of Lexington. It encompasses 53,000 acres in south-central Kentucky and is home to the world’s longest cave system.

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