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News Press release

Fort Union National Monument Certified as an International Dark Sky Park

The Milky Way and a sky full of stars as seen above the adobe ruins at Fort Union National Monument. Photo: Harun Mehmedinovic.

For Immediate Release:  Sept. 4, 2019
Contact: Lorenzo Vigil, 505-425-8025, [email protected]

Watrous, NM – The National Park Service and the International Dark Sky Association are pleased to announce Fort Union National Monument as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy based interpretive programming.

From May through September, Fort Union offers monthly night-sky interpretive programs, featuring both naked-eye astronomy and observations through telescopes.  The next night sky program at Fort Union will occur on Friday, September 13 beginning at 8:30 pm.

International Dark Sky Park certification promotes public education and astronomy based recreation in parks while improving energy efficiency and reduced operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades, which in turn creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism.

“We are very proud of Fort Union’s Dark Sky designation,” said Fort Union Superintendent Lorenzo Vigil. “At a time when fewer and fewer people are able to enjoy the wonders of a dark night sky, Fort Union is well positioned to offer that opportunity to the public. National parks are some of the best places in America to see a breath taking array of stars, planets, and neighboring galaxies.”

The certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority. The certification demonstrates a commitment by parks to improve night skies through the use of more energy efficient, sustainable lighting. Certification also reaffirms our commitment to educate the public and gateway communities about the importance of park-friendly, outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together toward common goals.

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education. Fort Union National Monument now joins more than 100 locations that have followed a rigorous application process that demonstrates robust community support for dark sky certification.

Once the largest U.S. Army fort in the Southwest, Fort Union now preserves the largest collection of 19th-century adobe buildings in the country. Nestled at the edge of the Great Plains where the prairie meets the mountains, the expansive sky above the Monument offers an unimpeded view of the nighttime heavens.

Located 150 miles from Albuquerque, NM, and 90 miles from Santa Fe, NM, Fort Union offers nearby urban populations a marvelous opportunity to enjoy pristine viewing of the celestial heavens. The Monument’s full program of activities can be viewed at

About the International Dark-Sky Association: IDA’s mission is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at