Appalachian Mountain Club launches ‘See the Dark’ program to highlight importance of the night sky

The Appalachian Mountain Club launched See the Dark, a public awareness program to highlight the importance of the night sky and elevate understanding of the impact of light pollution. The program includes an online information campaign and a free educational unit designed for middle school teachers.

“At AMC, we envision a world where our natural resources are healthy, loved, and always protected — and that includes the night sky,” said Susan Arnold, interim president and CEO of AMC. “In 2021, our Maine Woods Property was designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, becoming the first such park in New England. See the Dark brings the lessons and insights from that work to a much broader audience.” 

Arnold pointed to a growing disconnect between people and the night sky. Ninety nine percent of the population of the United States lives someplace where the night sky is obscured by light pollution. Without light pollution, about 2,500 stars are visible to the human eye. That number drops to 200 stars in suburbs and less than a dozen in cities. That means urban dwellers are disproportionately denied access to one of nature’s most beautiful treasures.

Backpackers Sarah Gutz, left, of Somerville, Mass., her father Dave Gutz, center, of Wenham, Mass., and her brother Stephen Gutz, of Cambridge, Mass., watch the crescent moon and Venus rise in the eastern sky from a 4,000-foot mountaintop on the Appalachian Trail in Beans Purchase, N.H., Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Gutz’s were on their annual “father-kids getaway,” Dave Gutz said. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

AMC created a Dark Sky Classroom Program to raise awareness of this issue. The free, easy-to-implement, three-day mini-unit is designed to help students learn about light pollution and the benefit of dark skies. The program was created by educators and is aligned with NGSS standards. 

As an added incentive, AMC is also announcing a companion digital photo essay contest in which students can submit their work and be entered to win prizes. One lucky teacher and their class will win a two-night stargazing experience at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Little Lyford Lodge in the Moosehead Lake region. Contest details may be found at

“It’s incredible that so many people cannot see the beauty that exists right above their heads,” said Arnold. “Our hope is to start a conversation that leads to a greater appreciation of the dark.” 

In addition to the school-based program, AMC created a website — — dedicated to providing a one-stop-shop for videos and stories highlighting the benefit of the dark sky.

The Appalachian Mountain Club is the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, committed to fostering the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. Since 1876, we’ve encouraged generations to deepen their passions for the outdoors and helped protect some of the most precious natural environments in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

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