A row of bright, white lights illuminating a nearby highway is all it takes to mar the image of the night sky, never mind a whole suburban neighborhood, complete with parking lots and public transit. Rent an RV, and take it to a place where you can rediscover the night sky, or see it clearly for the very first time.
Preserving the Dark Sky
You might be surprised to learn that the night sky needs conservation efforts. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) sets out to protect and preserve the view of night sky all over the world. The IDA can help you find environmentally-friendly lighting and educate your students or staff about the dangers of light pollution. They also keep a detailed list of campsites and RV parks with great stargazing opportunities.
The Wild Dark Blue Yonder
New Mexico is home to the Cosmic Campground, one of only two Dark Sky Sanctuaries recognized by the IDA worldwide. Naturally, this is a rustic campground with minimal services, as it's free of virtually any unnatural lighting. However, it's also a friendly and versatile site that is popular with hikers, photographers, geologists, and historians as well as stargazers.
If you would prefer something more civilized, that includes programs for astronomy enthusiasts and electrical hookups, there are several Dark-Sky Parks within the United States. Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is an IDA certified park that has campsites with water and electrical hookups, along with a dump station and hot showers. For those interested in other astronomical events, this campsite is very close to the Path of Totality predicted for the total solar eclipse that will cross the US in August of 2017.
Even areas that are not home to a significant amount of modern development still have problems with light pollution. Most people are accustomed to the light and activity of human habitation and haven't really experienced the true night sky. The next time you rent an RV to take it out for a wilderness wander, don’t forget to look up.