Celebrate Dark Sky Month at Antelope Island

by Discover Davis

Cover Photo: Ryan Andreasen

For the second year in a row, Utah Governor Spencer Cox has declared the month of April as Dark Sky Month! This exciting designation celebrates Utah’s unique place in the world as a mecca for astrotourism. What is astrotourism you might be asking yourself? This is a form of travel that includes dark sky destinations as part of your travel plans. Utah is home to 24 designated dark sky places, which is the highest concentration of dark sky places in the world! When you visit Davis, you don’t have to travel far to visit an International Dark Sky Park because we have one right at Antelope Island State Park. Antelope Island received this special accreditation in 2017 and is special in the fact that it is “urban adjacent” being so close to our urbanized county, as well as Salt Lake City.

What is a Dark Sky Place and why is it important?

Dark Sky Park status means that these areas have been officially recognized for their spectacular starry night skies and lack of light pollution.

Antelope Island Assistant Park Manager Wendy Wilson recently spoke with International Traveller for their Insider’s Guide to North America about why Utah is home to the most IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) – certified dark places and why dark skies are so important. “A dark sky place is an area that has been noted and protected to provide a quality dark sky environment,” she says. “There is limited light pollution from within or from outside the area and these areas provide not only great views of the night sky, but naturally dark nocturnal habitats.”  

Light pollution comes from artificial light sources – often from nearby cities – and it isn’t just bad for stargazing. It’s also bad for the environment. Evidence shows that living in bright areas can affect nocturnal wildlife behavior and even human circadian rhythm. Fortunately, light pollution is reversible with just a few simple changes:

Photo: Bettymaya Foote
  • Use light only where you need it.
  • Use light only when you need it.
  • Shield lights and direct them downward.
  • Use the minimum amount of light necessary.
  • Select warmer white light bulbs.

Enjoying Antelope Island’s Dark Sky

People often travel great distances to get away from city lights and see a starry night sky. But because of Antelope Island’s location on the vast Great Salt Lake, the park is an easily accessible location for stargazing and dark skies. While the park is not currently hosting live stargazing parties, visitors are welcome to stargaze on their own.  Be sure to check for updates on when Summer Star Parties may resume in the future. 

Scenic Night Sky View of Antelope Island
Photo: Bettymaya Foote

When is the best time to travel to see the Utah night skies at their best?

The stars and constellations are typically brighter in winter, and early summer is best for viewing the Milky Way but any clear night is wonderful for stargazing on Antelope Island. In fact, the west side of the island is the darkest spot in all of Davis County!

Celebrate International Dark Sky Week with Antelope Island 

Antelope Island is celebrating dark skies all week April 22 – 20, 2022. April is a wonderful time to visit Antelope Island State Park and we recommend making a weekend excursion of it to experience the majestic island during the day, catching a famous sunset from buffalo point and staying up late to soak up the night sky. Reserve your campsite here.

We’d love to see your dark sky adventures, tag us @discoverdavis and use the hashtags #DarkSkyMonth #DarkSkyWeek or #DiscoverTheNight

Photo: Ryan Andreasen

Don’t miss these events:

Celebrate dark sky week and join the Antelope Island Park Naturalist for an evening hike to experience and learn about the island’s nocturnal environment. Good for families.

Where: White Rock Bay/Backcountry Trailhead | Map

When: Friday, April 22 | 8:30 pm 

Join Assistant Park Manager, Wendy Wilson for a tour of your night sky using star mapping tool: Stellarium.

Where: Virtual | Details

When: Saturday, April 23 | 6:00 pm

Join Assistant Park Manager, Wendy Wilson for a good old-fashioned Star Hop!

Where: Visitor Center | Map

When: Saturday, April 30 | 9:00 pm

Want to learn more about dark skies and light pollution?

USU “Dive Into The Night” Toolkit with dark-sky introductory resources.

USU “Dark Skies & Culture” Toolkit to learn more about archeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, and other cultural astronomy concepts and traditions.

USU “Astrotourism” Toolkit includes how and where to experience exceptional night skies.

International Dark-Sky Association

VisitUtah: How to Stargaze in Utah & Stargazing

Photo: AISP Telescopes