Stargazers Will Absolutely Love Illinois’ Only Dark Sky Park
I've learned a couple of things over the last 24 hours that I never knew before. One, there are places called Dark Sky Parks, and two, Illinois has one in a forest preserve about 3 hours from Rockford.
And, as someone who enjoys it when we get a good look at things like eclipses, meteor showers, planetary alignments and such, I can't wait to visit Illinois' only dark sky park.
The Name Dark Sky Park Is Somewhat Self-Explanatory, But There's More To It Than Just Having A Dark Place
Depending on where you live here in Illinois, you may have been disappointed when you tried to look up into the night sky and see more than a few stars twinkling overhead. We've recently experienced meteor showers, the Christmas Comet, and even a peek at the Northern Lights---but many of us don't get a good luck because there's too much light in the sky.
That's why it's so cool that Illinois has Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Champaign County.
There's More To Middle Fork River Forest Preserve Than The Dark Skies At Night
This beautiful spot in Penfield, Illinois is a Waterfowl Management Area, featuring over 130 acres used by nesting migratory waterfowl. There's also great hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and bird watching, all in addition to being the only Dark Sky Park in Illinois.
While there are over 100 Dark Sky Parks globally, and 78 scattered throughout the U.S., there are only 6 officially recognized Dark Sky Parks in the Midwest:
- Geauga Observatory Park (Montville Township, OH)
- Headlands Park (Emmet County, MI)
- Dr. T.K. Lawless County Park (Jones, MI)
- Newport State Park (Ellison Bay, WI)
- Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
- Voyageurs National Park (International Falls, MN)