Enjoying the Stars at Acadia National Park

Starry night in Acadia National Park
An impact grant from NPF helped Acadia National Park replace outdoor lighting at multiple campgrounds to reduce light pollution and preserve the night sky.

Among the many aspects of natural beauty in Acadia National Park is the view of the starry night sky, which provides stunning views of the Milky Way to thousands of visitors. The natural night sky is an integral part of the park, an element of cultural heritage, and a source of inspiration for visitors. Acadia is the only national park in the northeast that provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a high-quality night sky and natural darkness.

Acadia National Park worked to complete a public demonstration project to replace outdoor lighting at Acadia's Seawall and Blackwoods campgrounds with full cutoff fixtures that prevent light pollution and help preserve the night sky.

Light pollution is caused by sources outside the park, as well as from outdoor lighting inside the park. As development continues to increase in gateway communities, opportunities to enjoy the night sky at Acadia are threatened.

The Bortle Scale provides a standard measurement of night sky quality with a rating from Class 1 to 9, with Class 1 being pristine. Measurable light pollution reaches so far that finding a national park with even a Class 2 night sky is becoming difficult. Measurements of the night sky at Acadia National Park indicate Class 3 to 4 conditions, which may be the best night sky most residents in the northeastern United States will ever see.

The forecast for the growth in light pollution is alarming, yet there are easily identifiable solutions and a growing number of success stories in protecting and restoring night skies. Night sky friendly lighting typically saves energy, reduces glare, improves nighttime visibility, and improves safety.

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