Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, renowned for its Sandhills location providing spectacular astronomical views, has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park.

Merritt has hosted the annual Nebraska Star Party each summer for 29 years, when professional and amateur astronomers converge to take advantage of a sky free of
light pollution.

Merritt is the first Nebraska site certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. The IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the
leading organization combating light pollution worldwide.

The IDA’s International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.

Merritt, a 9,000-acre park southwest of Valentine in Cherry County, already is known for its excellent fishing, boating and camping opportunities.

Cherry County tourism director Regina Osburn will be on the KVSH Comment program on Wednesday the 14th to discuss the dark skies designation.