Maybe we need a waterpark, or a theme park. There might be a lot of great park ideas that could come to our area.  Ask the average person whether they think we need a "Dark Sky Park" in the area and that might result in confusion.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
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So What is A Dark Sky Park?

Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash
Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash
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There are six International Dark Sky Parks in Texas:  Big Bend Ranch, Enchanted Rock, Copper Breaks and South Llano River State Parks. A Dark Sky Park is defined as land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry night that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment

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There are also two IDA Dark Sky Sanctuaries: Devil's River State Natural Area and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. Dark Sky Sanctuaries are defined as public or private lands that have an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.

Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash
Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash
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So what's the big deal?  Consider this. An estimated 80% of Americans have never seen the Milky Way. This is because of the glow of artificial lights.  A whole generation of people may live and die and never have the subtle joy of observing the  wonders of the unobstructed night sky.

Photo by Denis Degioanni on Unsplash
Photo by Denis Degioanni on Unsplash
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Here in Texas, Texas Parks and WIldlife Department has partnered with the McDonald Observatory and the International Dark Sky Association to promote star gazing in our parks.

With that in mind, earlier this week, The Escondido Draw Recreational Area announced that it is seeking certification to become an International Dark Sky Park. This area of Crockett County is situated in a region with some of the darkest skies in North America.  We are so lucky to live so close. San Angelo is just 117 miles away.

Photo: Google
Photo: Google
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If you're looking to wish on a star or see details in the night sky few people truly ever experience anymore, this could be great news.  You don't have to wait, though, if you want to see stars.  If you get just a few miles out of town in San Angelo, you can experience near dark sky park conditions and see multiple shooting stars during meteor showers.

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LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.

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