Lagoon at nighttime in the foothills of the Elqui Valley / Getty
Stars, planets and the Milky Way have enthralled humans since we first gazed into the night sky. Unfortunately, in modern times, 80% of North American residents have lost their view of the cosmos to artificial light pollution.
Why protect the natural state of night skies? Plants and animals rely on the rhythm of light and dark to eat, breed, sleep and foil predators. That’s why dark sky regions often complement good viticulture: the vineyard’s microbes, flora and fauna benefit from the protected circadian rhythm.
In 2001, the Tucson, Arizona-based International Dark Sky Association launched to raise awareness about the harmful effects of light pollution and designate some of the world’s least polluted skies as parks, reserves and sanctuaries. As of August 2021, the organization has certified over 180 International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) around the world.