When was the last time you tipped your head back at night and couldn’t help gasping at the wonder of the night sky? Stars more abundant than we get to see or notice in our urban or suburban environments (easier if you live in a rural area) are always there, but weather and light pollution prevent us from seeing them. It is magnificence of the highest order when you get away, perhaps on your travels, and see the sky anew.
The National Parks Service, in addition to protecting the waterfalls and trails and safety railings and ranger programs and information booths and brochures in our nature lands, is also tasked with protecting the starry night sky experience at the parks. Now here’s the cool thing…they use volunteers, “Astro VIPs” (VIP=Volunteer in Park), to run some of the dark skies programs. Amateur astronomers and hobby stargazers can help get others enthused about viewing clear astral nights. Participating parks include Acadia, Badlands, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Capitol Reef, Glacier and Glen Canyon, just to name a few. You’ll commit spring or summer hours, work with the public, support protection and education goals of night skies programs, and actually earn 25 bucks each night you volunteer. Most of the park locales provide modest housing in small cabins, apartments, dormitories, or RV spots, and, of course, full training.
Just think if your volunteer gig is being an Ambassador of the Night Skies! Stick THAT on your resume!