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Big Bend National Monument Designated As International Dark Sky Park (PHOTOS)

| 02/ 7/12 10:31 AM ET | AP

EL PASO, Texas -- Big Bend National Park officials has been designated as an "International Dark Sky Park" and one of ten places in the world certified to have especially dark night skies favored for stargazing.

A statement Monday from the International Dark-Sky Association says Big Bend has the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 states and is the largest park in the world with the designation.

Only four other U.S. parks and one in Scotland share the "gold tier" level, which means the area skies are free from all but minimal light pollution. Six other parks, with slightly less dark skies, have "silver tier" rank.

Strict ordinances in Alpine, Van Horn and other towns and communities in the region limit unnecessary night light and curb West Texas light pollution.

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  • Big Bend National Park, Texas

    <em>Courtesy Tyler Nordgren/Dark Sky</em>

  • Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

    <em>Courtesy Tyler Nordgren/Dark Sky</em>

  • Zselic National Landscape Protection Area, Hungary

    <em>Courtesy Zoltán Kolláth</em>

  • The Headlands, Michigan

    <em>Courtesy Robert deJonge/Dark Sky</em>

  • Goldendale Observatory Park, Washington

    <em>Courtesy Dark Sky</em>

  • Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico

    <em>Courtesy Dark Sky</em>

  • Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

    <em>Courtesy Dark Sky</em>

  • Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

    <em>Courtesy Steve Owens/Dark Sky</em>

  • Observatory Park, Ohio

    <em>Courtesy Dark Sky</em>

  • Hortobagy National Park, Hungary

    <em>Courtesy Dark Sky</em>

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Filed by Kate Auletta  |