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America’s first Dark Sky Reserve
Central Idaho is officially a stargazers’ paradise, said Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman. A 1,400-square-mile chunk of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area has been certified as an International Dark Sky Reserve—the first such reserve in the U.S. and the 12th worldwide. While there are 40 dark-sky parks across the country, they don’t qualify as reserves, which are much larger and require a dark core that’s entirely free of light pollution. Whereas 99 percent of Americans “look up to skies so polluted with manmade light that the Milky Way is virtually invisible,” the night sky is pristine above the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, located less than three hours from Boise. Each night, after the sky darkens, you’ll see a lot more than the familiar stars and planets, said Keith Ridler in the Associated Press. The skies are so clear that it’s easy to make out the vast interstellar dust clouds that darken the arms of the Milky Way.
A truly wild Missouri museum
The new museum-aquarium in Springfield, Mo., “feels like the kind of over-the-top attraction you’d find in Dubai—utterly massive, absurdly detailed, and completely indoors,” said Matt Meltzer in Thrillist.com. Wonders of Wildlife takes visitors on an immersive trip through the world’s great wildernesses, from the Amazon rain forest to the Arctic tundra. A mile and a half of trails wind through the habitats, which are brought to life with dioramas populated with stuffed beasts and more than 35,000 live mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. The temperatures, scents, and sounds all mimic reality, making the experience feel “as close to BBC’s Planet Earth as you can get without, ya know, actually exploring planet Earth.” Most impressive is the 1.5 million–gallon aquarium. Kids will love the shipwreck room, where they can peer through portholes into tanks full of Florida sea life. “Leaving the museum, it was disorienting to realize I was actually in the Ozarks.”