N.S. national park named night sky preserve
Kejimkujik National Park to be free of light pollution
Kejimkujik National Park in southwestern Nova Scotia is now officially a dark sky preserve where people will be able to observe the heavens without the nuisance of light pollution.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada recently approved the park's application — the first such designation in Nova Scotia.
David Chapman, with the Halifax chapter of the astronomical society, said the park didn't have to do much to win the designation.
"In fact, the lighting situation in Keji was very close to ideal when we first visited the park just about a year ago. They just had to basically define a zone in the park that would be kept free of light," he said.
"They've had to make some small adjustments to some of the lights around the park, but the camping experience is practically identical to the way it's been all along."
Traditional light fixtures will be replaced by ones that curb glare in that zone of the park.
According to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a dark sky preserve is a site with "very dark skies and virtually no sky glow on the horizon." There are at least 10 such designated sites in Canada, including two in New Brunswick.
Chapman said dark sky preserves must also be places where people are welcome to come and observe the night sky.
The designation won't affect what people can do in the park, he said. Rather, it will enhance their nature experience while camping and canoeing.
"It's important for a couple of reasons. One, it's a way that we can educate people about the night sky and also the importance of proper lighting," he said.
People want to 'experience the sky'
"It's also important because people do want to experience the sky, and they know that they need to get out of the city. This is going to be a welcoming place."
This summer there will be public astronomy programming, light-pollution controls and an interpretation program that will explore the significance of the night sky in Mi'kmaq culture and history.
Chapman said observing the stars and the Milky Way against the inky blackness of the sky at Keji is an "indescribable, wonderful " experience.
"We have now a place that is guaranteed in the future. Regardless of what happens in the cities, there is a place that you can go to see that," he said.
The park will be the site of a party in early August to celebrate the designation.