Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association, the U.S. National Park Service announced Friday.

The dark-sky designation distinguishes the monument as a place with an exceedingly natural dark night sky – and is only the second of its kind in the National Park Service, and the first in New England, according to the park service.

“This designation is the culmination of a long-term effort by a dedicated group of people and is an exciting event in the short history of the monument,” said Katahdin Woods and Waters Superintendent Tim Hudson in a press release.

Hudson said that the experience of the dark sky in the monument, which was established on Aug. 24, 2016, can take a visitor back in time 11,000 years to when the land was inhabited by the Wabanaki.

The new designation will be celebrated by the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters at the seventh-annual “Stars Over Katahdin” event hosted by the friends group on Sept. 12. The event provides visitors the chance to learn about the monument’s dark sky and the association’s efforts to preserve places with naturally dark night skies. A virtual version of the event is being planned in the event a gathering is not possible because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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