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Where dark skies draw star-gazers, wildfire smoke spoils the view

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK — The high, lonesome dunes that run up against the Rocky Mountains at 7,500 feet above sea level in southern Colorado are a long, long drive from the closest streetlight, and after dusk, the almost untainted darkness and thin, dry air reveals just how bright the night sky can actually be.

Stars burn fierce enough to cast shadows on the sand. The core of the Milky Way is a blazing arch, soaring over the Continental Divide. Like other remote parts of the West, the dunes are usually an ideal spot to catch the annual summer light show put on by the Perseid meteor shower.

 

Read more about how the wildfire smoke is affecting our night skies from Dave Philipps with the New York Times here.