A recent study suggests that visitors come to the National Park for dark nighttime skies. The research was conducted by experts at Maine’s Acadia National Park in order to improve visitors’ experience in the park and to find out what other activities they might be interested in.
The request began by asking people what other reasons they value the national park for. According to their declaration, Acadia is seen as a wonderful location to observe nature, but also for nighttime sky observations. 90 percent of the visitors have confessed that such activities are extremely important for them and that they wished Acadia encouraged related events.
The National Park is as a matter of fact hosting within the period between September 10 and 14 the Night Skies Festival. For this reason, researchers wanted to get to know their visitors better and understand what kind of experience they are looking for.
During the survey, various visitors were handed different images of nighttime skies and light pollution. There were five pictures, each showing a different degree of light pollution. Most visitors agreed that the maximum level of luminosity they accept for nighttime activities was the one in the third photo. The first and the fifth images represented the most desired situation and, respectively, the most disturbing scenario.
The method that Acadia scientists have used for the current survey has been successfully used on previous occasions to determine what changes visitors would make. Based on the recent findings, Acadia is now working to reduce light pollution and to help visitors enjoy nighttime observations of the sky.
Among the possible solutions they have found were also the replacement of regular light bulbs with LED installations. The latter do not disperse light, but focus it on particular areas, thus minimizing luminosity. In addition, light systems will be eliminated wherever this will be possible, researchers have concluded.
Visitors, too, will be asked to limit the use of lighting devices as much as possible. Flashlights, headlights and other illumination sources will not be allowed within the National Park of Acadia.
Curators hope their initiatives will inspire city administrators to reduce light pollution wherever this is possible. Astronomical tourism can help develop local regions; therefore, measures should be taken to diminish unnecessary light sources.
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