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The place to go in Maine to see the night sky in all its glory

You’ll find superb stargazing in one of the darkest places in the world

PORTLAND, Maine — If you live in Bangor or Kittery or South Portland, you are missing out on one of nature’s most arresting sights. Sure, you can look up at the night sky and see stars, but not the magnificent display you’d catch in a place with no light pollution. To see the stars in all their glory you need to go where the darkness is untouched by civilization, and in Maine there may be no better location than Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

This spring the park was added to the shortlist of International Dark Sky Sanctuaries. Only a dozen locations around the world have received this designation from the International Dark-Sky Association, an organization devoted to preserving and protecting the nighttime environment through responsible outdoor lighting.

The sanctuaries, according to the Association, “are the most remote (and often darkest) places in the world whose conservation state is most fragile.” Four places in the U.S. have earned a spot on the list. Katahdin Woods and Waters is the only one east of the Mississippi. “Experiencing the night skies here,” observed park superintendent Tim Hudson, “will take you back in time to the night skies first experienced by the Wabanaki 11,000 years ago.”

What’s it like in the park during the pandemic? In a word, empty. On a weekend in late May, Hudson told 207, “we saw one out-of-state license plate.” So when and where should you go to see the stars at their most dazzling? For Hudson’s recommendations on how to get the best experience at Katahdin Woods and Waters, whether under the black velvet night sky or the bright light of day, watch our interview.

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