Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is now a “dark sky” sanctuary, the National Park Service announced today.

The designation by the International Dark-Sky Association is the first of its kind along the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., the second in the National Park Service and the 12th such designation in the world.

The 90,000-acre monument is on the east side of Baxter State Park. Right now, unfortunately, it’s closed to the public because of COVID-19.

The park service is working with the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters on the seventh annual Stars Over Katahdin celebration, now scheduled for September. It will be an opportunity for the public, star enthusiasts and volunteer-in-parks astronomers to observe celestial objects.

In case in-person gatherings are not allowed in September, the friends group is preparing a virtual version of the event.

The Katahdin monument was established in 2016 to protect the natural and cultural landscape of the north Maine woods. It was fiercely opposed by then-Gov. Paul LePage who refused to allow roadsigns alerting people to its presence.

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