National Parks 100 Years Photo Gallery

In this Dec. 10, 2011, file photo, a lunar eclipse is framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, Utah (AP) — Arches National Park in southern Utah is now certified as an International Dark Sky Park.

The National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association said in a joint announcement Friday that the designation recognizes the park's "quality night skies and a commitment to protecting and sharing natural darkness."

Steps taken by park officials to receive the designation include replacing light fixtures with fully-shielded bulbs to minimize glare and light emissions.

According to the announcement, the designation will help Arches grow astronomy programs and encourages astronomy-based tourism in nearby communities.

The designation will be celebrated Sept. 21 during a ceremony and star party at the newly completed Panorama Point stargazing area within the park.

Canyonlands National Park and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments already have international dark sky park certifications.

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