Visit the Grand Canyon and Death Valley with Planetary Society volunteer and national park enthusiast CaLisa Lee as she learns about Star Parties and the Parks After Dark. Thanks to our 59 untouched national parks, which celebrated 100 years in 2016, we can still see a view of the night skies that existed across our planet before light pollution became common. From DarkSkiesAwareness.org:

For most of Earth’s history, our spectacular universe of stars and galaxies has been visible in the darkness of the night sky. From our earliest beginnings, the vast spectacle arrayed across the dark sky has inspired questions about our universe and our relation to it. The history of scientific discovery, art, literature, astronomy, navigation, exploration, philosophy, and even human curiosity itself would be diminished without our view of the stars.

But today, the increasing number of people living on earth and the corresponding increase in inappropriate and unshielded outdoor lighting has resulted in light pollution—a brightening night sky that has obliterated the stars for much of the world’s population. Most people must travel far from home, away from the glow of artificial lighting, to experience the awe-inspiring expanse of the Milky Way as our ancestors once knew it.

Related reading: List of national parks of the United States, Star Party stargazing events, and FindYourPark.com.

Next: LeVar Burton visits the Grand Canyon, On Light Pollution: The End of Darkness, and Borrowed Light, an ambitious, animated plan to see the light by stealing it. Bonus: Watch more National Park videos.

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