Earlier this year Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Crystal Coast Stargazers began work on applying to become an International Dark Sky Park.
The National Park Service announced Tuesday that it was partnering with the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center to pursue the designation.
An International Dark Sky Park designation promotes public education and astronomy-based recreation in parks, while improving energy efficiency and reduced operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades that create economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism. The plan is to submit the application to the International Dark Sky Association by January 2021.
The chamber is to promote and publicize the park’s application and objectives among its member organizations and the waterfowl museum will be a part of planned tourism activities, including outreach presentations on promoting the preservation of night skies during museum events.
“The Chamber of Commerce is very excited to be a partner in bringing astronomy-based tourism opportunities to our county. It’s another great reason to visit the Crystal Coast,” said chamber President Tom Kies.
“We look forward to partnering with the Crystal Coast Stargazers with our education programming in the future,” said Karen Amspacher, executive director of the waterfowl museum. “Core Sound Waterfowl Museum is totally committed to preserving our cultural and natural resources, even our skies! For us, this will be an opportunity to increase our understanding and appreciation for the beautiful night skies that we often take for granted.”
The Crystal Coast Stargazers, the area astronomy club, has been a partner with the park service since the beginning of the application process.
“If you live on the East Coast, there is no place like Cape Lookout National Seashore to experience viewing our amazing nighttime skies – the stars and planets are so vivid,” said Cape Lookout Superintendent Jeff West. “These partnerships exist so everyone has the opportunity to know about, and see this amazing resource.”