Summer Milky Way, Steel Creek, Buffalo River National Park. Eilish Reding Palmer.

Today, human habitat is often an artificial urban asphalt, concrete, glass and steel world softened here and there with a strip of grass or bit of greenery. Our alienation from nature comes at a price for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Our National Parks, forests, and monuments are reservoirs of nature to which we can escape.

Unfortunately, our estrangement from nature is such that much of it has slipped from our consciousness. For many, this includes nature’s grandest spectacle, the universe passing over our heads every night, but hidden by a veil of urban light. How many visitors to our wild places sit by the campfire at night never thinking to step away and look up? There can be no experience more soul cleansing than to lie in contemplation of a star-filled dark sky with a chorus of night creatures serenading as the Milky Way slowly wheels overhead.

The International Dark Sky Association believes that the opportunity to have that experience is as important as any other element of our natural places. Hence, IDA’s Dark Places program.

The Arkansas Natural Sky Association is working with the Buffalo National River to obtain Arkansas’ first Dark Sky Park accreditation. Highlighting the park’s dark sky resource will extract new value and add a new constituency dedicated to the river’s protection.

There are two ways you can help.  To gain and keep accreditation, we must document and monitor the skies over the 150-mile length of the park. To learn how, and join in Click here.  The park must also offer relevant programming.  Ideally, this will include some number of star parties or sky tours during the year.  If you are a regular sky watcher or amateur astronomer and would like to help with these, Click here