“Darkness is as essential to our biological welfare, to our internal clockwork, as light itself.” -Verlyn Klinkenborg, “Our Vanishing Night,” National Geographic magazine, November 2008
While doing some research, I learned that there’s an Observatory located just north of the Badlands — a terrific reminder that our National Parks protect many invaluable natural resources, and one of those endangered resources is a DARK NIGHT SKY. Much of our country has become so polluted by lights that our view of the night sky is limited to just a few of the very brightest objects. Because I grew up on a farm in the country, I am keenly aware of how the night skies have been “washed out” during course of my lifetime. Here’s an image of the “Night Sky” showing how overly illuminated our country has become (from the International Dark-Sky Association’s website):
A town of less than a hundred people may seem like a place where nothing big ever happens, but when the sun goes down in the modest community of Quinn, population 73, there are happenings of astronomical proportions. Visit the Badlands Observatory, its Director Ron Dyvig, and learn how the vision for the observatory came about, the process of building the facility and the work that is done there. Meet some of the members of the Black Hills Astronomical Society and learn about their interest in the facility and astronomy in general.