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Photograph by Chris Floyd

A Starry Night On Sark Island

FORGET BLUE skies -- for a growing community of stargazing tourists, darkness is all they want. "People have never seen the Milky Way," says Rowena Davis of the International Dark-Sky Association, which identifies the earth's best locales for appreciating the heavens. In January, the English Channel island of Sark received dark-sky status from Davis's group, after Felicity Belfield, an 89- year-old resident, started a campaign. ("We ought to make the most of what we've got," she says.) A high plateau with a rugged coast, Sark's 2 square miles are home to 600 residents. Streetlights do not exist; cars are outlawed. The resulting tranquility attracts 50,000 annual visitors, filling B&Bs such as La Sablonnerie Hotel (rooms start at $150). It's likely the dark-sky label will further boost tourism: Scotland's Galloway Forest Park has seen a 30% uptick in Astronomy Centre bookings since earning the status in 2009. "Unnecessary light floods places like Las Vegas," says Belfield. "Young people are disenchanted by all that. They're more interested in the wonders of the universe." sark.info

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