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A vast expanse of forestland in Maine was designated New England’s first “dark sky park” this week.

A dark sky park is defined as “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association. The North Maine Woods, where the designated area is located, is one of the darkest areas on the East Coast. The property is owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

“While the [Appalachian Mountain Club] North Maine Woods region retains its rugged character defined by the enormity of the forest here, it stands on the advancing edge of development that brings with it the end of the dark night sky,” said Dark Sky Park Superintendent Steve Tatko. “I see this designation as a way for the people of this area to re-envision the immense importance of this forest in a way that makes tangible the intrinsic beauty of the night sky we all cherish.”

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There are 75 certified dark sky parks in the United States, including a dozen on the East Coast.

The North Maine Woods span more than 5,400 square miles, stretching to the Canadian border, the Appalachian Mountain Club said. The area has “been identified as an area of exceptionally high habitat connectivity and climate change resilience.”

The view of the night sky from the Appalachian Mountain Club Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins in Maine, pictured in 2019.
The view of the night sky from the Appalachian Mountain Club Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins in Maine, pictured in 2019.Alex Catullo



Charlie McKenna can be reached at charlie.mckenna@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @charliemckenna9.