A dark-sky preserve (DSP) is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory, that restricts artificial light pollution. The purpose of a dark sky preserve is generally to promote astronomy. Because different national organizations have worked independently to create their programs, different terms have been used to describe the areas. This has led to confusion between the terms reserve, preserve, and park. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) chooses reserve to avoid confusion with park, when using the initialisms "IDSR" (International Dark Sky Reserve) and "IDSP" (International Dark Sky Park).
In 1999, the first permanent preserve was established at Torrance Barrens in the Muskoka region of southern Ontario. Nevertheless, protection zones around observatories existed well before the creation of that preserve.
The IDA recognizes protected areas worldwide. The Mont Mégantic Observatory in Quebec is the first such site to be recognized (in 2007) as International Dark Sky Reserve. IDA has also recognized Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah as the world's first International Dark Sky Park.
Canada has established an extensive standard for dark sky preserves that addresses lighting within the DSP and influences from skyglow from urban areas in the region. This was based on the work of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. There are no other established standards for dark sky preserves. Outside Canada, such designations are generally through self-proclamation. As a result, the validity of such a designation may be dubious. In some cases, dark sky preserves are neither dark nor protected.
It is generally understood that a Dark Sky Preserve, or Dark Sky Reserve, should be sufficiently dark to promote astronomy. However this is not always the case. The lighting protocol for a Dark Sky Preserve is based on the sensitivity of wildlife to artificial light at night (ALAN).
Dark Sky Places
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Dark Sky Places program offers five types of designations:
- International Dark Sky Communities – Communities are legally organised cities and towns that adopt quality outdoor lighting ordinances and undertake efforts to educate residents about the importance of dark skies.
- International Dark Sky Parks – Parks are publicly or privately owned spaces protected for natural conservation that implement good outdoor lighting and provide dark sky programs for visitors.
- International Dark Sky Reserves – Reserves consist of a dark "core" zone surrounded by a populated periphery where policy controls are enacted to protect the darkness of the core.
- International Dark Sky Sanctuaries – Sanctuaries are the most remote (and often darkest) places in the world whose conservation state is most fragile.
- Dark Sky Developments of Distinction – Developments of Distinction recognize subdivisions, master planned communities, and unincorporated neighborhoods and townships whose planning actively promotes a more natural night sky but does not qualify them for the International Dark Sky Community designation.
Further designations include Dark Sky Nation, given to the Kaibab Indian Reservation, and Parashant International Night Sky Province-Window to the Cosmos, given to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.
Dark sky preserves, reserves and parks
|Country||Name||Location||Area (in ha)||Bortle scale||Status||Notes|
|Australia||Warrumbungle National Park||New South Wales||23,312||Dark Sky Park||Designated on Jul. 4, 2016|
|Canada||Beaver Hills||Alberta||29,300||4.5||Designated on Sep. 3, 2006|
|Canada||Jasper National Park||Alberta||1,122,800||1–2||Designated on Mar. 11, 2011|
|Canada||Wood Buffalo National Park||Alberta/NWT||4,480,700||1–2||UNESCO World Heritage||Designated on June 28, 2013|
|Canada||Cattle Point||Oak Bay, British Columbia||5||Urban Star Park||Designated March 29, 2013|
|Canada||McDonald Park||British Columbia||5||2–3||Designated in 2003|
|Canada||Fundy National Park||New Brunswick||20,700||2||Designated on Oct. 31, 2011|
|Canada||Irving Nature Park Urban Star Park||Saint John, New Brunswick||243||?||Urban Star Park||Designated on Jul. 1, 2011; First RASC-designated Urban Star Park|
|Canada||Kouchibouguac National Park||New Brunswick||23,920||2||Designated on Jun. 6, 2009|
|Canada||Mount Carleton Provincial Park||New Brunswick||17,427||2||Designated on Jul. 18, 2009|
|Canada||Kejimkujik National Park||Nova Scotia||40,400||2||Designated on Aug. 7, 2010|
|Canada||Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre||Ontario||129||2||Designated on Nov. 3, 2012 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada|
|Canada||Bruce Peninsula Fathom Five National Marine Park||Ontario||16,700||2–3||Designated on Mar. 29, 2009|
|Canada||Gordon's Park||Ontario||43.7||2–3||Designated on Aug. 15, 2009; designation is only for the Park though Manitoulin Island (276,611 ha) follows dark-sky practices|
|Canada||North Frontenac Township||Ontario||116,000||1–2||Designated on June 28, 2013|
|Canada||Point Pelee National Park||Ontario||2,000||3–4||Designated in 2006|
|Canada||Torrance Barrens||Ontario||1906||3||Designated in 1999; first Canadian dark sky preserve|
|Canada||Mont Mégantic Observatory||Quebec||527,500||2–3||Reserve||Designated Sept. 2007; first IDA International Dark-Sky Reserve|
|Canada||Cypress Hills||Saskatchewan/Alberta||39,600||2||Designated on Sep. 28, 2004|
|Canada||Grasslands National Park||Saskatchewan||92,100||1–2||Designated on Oct. 2, 2009|
|Czech Republic, Slovakia||Beskydy Dark-Sky Park||Moravian-Silesian Region, Czech Republic
Čadca District, Slovakia
|30,800||3–4||Designated on Mar. 4, 2013; The second world's bilateral dark-sky park|
|Czech Republic||Manětín Dark-Sky Park||Plzeň Region||34,600||3–5||Designated on Sep. 15, 2014|
|Germany||Westhavelland Nature Park||Brandenburg||Designated an IDA International Dark Sky Reserve on Feb. 12, 2014|
|France||Pic du Midi de Bigorre||Hautes-Pyrénées||311,200||2–4||International Dark Sky Reserve||Designated an IDA International Dark Sky Reserve on Dec. 2013; First IDA International Dark Sky Reserve in France (still now) and in Europe.|
|Hungary||Hortobágy Starry Sky Park||10,000||?||Designated on Jan. 31, 2011; IDA's third international dark-sky park (Silver tier)|
|Hungary||Zselic National Landscape Protection Area||9,042||3–4||Designated on Nov. 16, 2009|
|Ireland||Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve||Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry||70,000||1–3||Reserve||Designated an IDA International Dark Sky Reserve on Jan. 27, 2014|
|Israel||Ramon Crater (Makhtesh Ramon)||113.2||2–3||Dark Sky Park||Designated September 14, 2017|
|Namibia||NamibRand Nature Reserve||Reserve||Designated ???|
|New Zealand||Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park||Tekapo||430,000||2||Reserve||Designated on 9 June 2012|
|Poland||Bieszczady Starry-Sky Park||Subcarpathia||113,846.5||2–3||Designated on Mar. 8, 2013|
|Poland, Czech Republic||Izera Dark-Sky Park||Lower Silesia, Poland
Liberec Region, Czech Republic
|7,500||3–4||Designated on Nov. 4, 2009; the first European dark-sky park and the first world's bilateral dark-sky park|
|Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine||East Carpathian Dark-Sky Tripark||Poloniny Dark-Sky Park (Slovakia); Bieszczady Starry-Sky Park (Poland); Transcarpathian Dark-Sky Park (Ukraine)||208,667||2–3||Designated on Sep. 9, 2016; first world's trilateral dark-sky park|
|Slovakia||Poloniny Dark-Sky Park||Poloniny National Park||48,519||2–3||Designated on Dec. 3, 2010|
|Slovakia||Veľká Fatra Dark-Sky Park||Veľká Fatra National Park (part of)||325||3–4||Designated on Jun. 12, 2015|
|Ukraine||Transcarpathian Dark-Sky Park||Uzhansky National Nature Park||46,302||2||Designated on Jun. 10, 2016|
|UK||Exmoor National Park||Devon & Somerset, England||Reserve||Designated 10 October 2011|
|UK||Galloway Forest Park||Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland||75,000||3||Designated on Nov. 16, 2009|
|UK||Sark||British Crown Dependency of Guernsey||545||3||Designated on Jan. 31, 2011; IDA's first international dark-sky island (Silver tier)|
|UK||Isle of Coll||Inner Hebrides, Scotland||Designated on Dec. 9, 2013|
|UK||Northumberland National Park||Northumberland, England||103,000||Dark Sky Park||Designated on Dec. 9, 2013|
|UK||Brecon Beacons||Wales||Reserve||Designated 19 February 2013|
|United States||Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument||Arizona||4,242 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2014|
|United States||Death Valley National Park||California||13,743 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2013|
|United States||Joshua Tree National Park||California||3,199.59 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated July 26, 2017|
|United States||Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park||Colorado||124.4 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2015|
|United States||Hovenweep National Monument||Colorado, Utah||3.1 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2014|
|United States||Big Cypress National Preserve||Florida||2,916 km2||Dark Sky Park ||Designated 2017|
|United States||Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park||Florida||?? km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2016|
|United States||Stephen C. Foster State Park||Georgia||32||Dark Sky Park||Designated November 2016|
|United States||Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve||Idaho||Dark Sky Reserve||Designated December 2017|
|United States||Potawatomi Wildlife Park||Indiana||116||4.5||Designated in 2003|
|United States||Lake Hudson State Recreation Area||Michigan||890||3||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 1993|
|United States||Negwegon State Park||Michigan||1,513||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 2016|
|United States||Port Crescent State Park||Michigan||2.4 km2||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 2012|
|United States||Rockport State Recreation Area||Michigan||17.15 km2||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 2016|
|United States||Thompson's Harbor State Park||Michigan||20.68 km2||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 2016|
|United States||Wilderness State Park||Michigan||4,254||Dark Sky Preserve||Designated in 2012|
|United States||The Headlands||Michigan||220||3–5||Dark Sky Park||Designated in 2011|
|United States||Chaco Culture National Historical Park||New Mexico||13759 km2||2–3||Dark Sky Park||Designated on Aug. 28, 2013|
|United States||Clayton Lake||New Mexico||69||Designated June 29, 2010|
|United States||Observatory Park||Ohio||418.5||?||Designated on Aug. 20, 2011|
|United States||Cherry Springs State Park||Pennsylvania||20||2||Dark Sky Park||Designated as a State DSP in 2000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and as the second International DSP by the IDA on June 11, 2007.|
|United States||Big Bend National Park||Texas||324,219 ac||Dark Sky Park||Designated February 11, 2012|
|United States||Copper Breaks State Park||Texas||770||Dark Sky Park||Designated Aug. 6, 2014|
|United States||Dripping Springs||Texas||Dark-sky Community||Designated February 11, 2014|
|United States||Enchanted Rock||Texas||665||Dark Sky Park||Designated Aug. 6, 2014|
|United States||Canyonlands National Park||Utah||1365 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2015|
|United States||Capitol Reef National Park||Utah||980 km2||Dark Sky Park||Designated 2015|
|United States||Natural Bridges National Monument||Utah||3090||2||Dark Sky Park||Designated in 2007; first international dark-sky park|
|United States||Goldendale Observatory||Washington||2||Designated June 29, 2010|
|United States||Newport State Park||Wisconsin||960||Designated in 2017|
|Name||Country||Radius (in km)|
|Mount John University Observatory||New Zealand||37|
|Mont Mégantic Observatory||Canada||50|
|Monte Ekar Observatory||Italy||30|
|Asiago Astrophysical Observatory||Italy||30|
|Observatoire de Haute-Provence||France||15|
|Ondřejov Observatory||Czech Republic||10|
|Dominion Astrophysical Observatory||Canada||5|
Some regions, like the following, are protected without any reference to an observatory or a park.
- Regions of Coquimbo, Atacama, and Antofagasta in northern Chile
- The island of La Palma of the Canary Islands
- The Big Island of Hawaii
- Florida beach communities restrict lighting on beaches, to preserve hatchling Sea Turtles.
In the Canadian program, lighting within the area must be strictly controlled to minimize the impact of artificial lighting on wildlife. These guidelines are more stringent than in other countries that lack the extensive wilderness areas that still exist in Canada. The management of a Canadian DSP extends their outreach programs from the public that visit the site to include the promotion of better lighting policies in surrounding urban areas. Currently, dark-sky preserves have more control over internal and external lighting than other programs.
With the increase in regional light pollution, some observatories have actively worked with cities in their region to establish protection zones where there is controlled light pollution. These areas may not yet have been declared dark-sky preserves.
Although dark-sky preserve designations are generally sought by astronomers, it is clear that preserving natural darkness has positive effects on the health of nocturnal wildlife within the parks. For example, the nocturnal black-footed ferret was reintroduced to the Grasslands National Park dark-sky preserve and the success of the reintroduction is enhanced by the pristine natural darkness maintained within the park by the DSP agreement.
- "Rise of the Milky Way". Eso.org. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Peter McMahon (April 4, 2011). "Preserving the night sky: Dark-sky preserves in Canada". Canadian Geographic. Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- "First International Dark Sky Reserve Is Announced in Québec!" (PDF). International Dark-Sky Association. 2007-09-21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-15. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- "Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument Becomes First International Dark Sky Park" (PDF). International Dark-Sky Association. 2007-04-19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-15. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- "Royal Astronomical Society of Canada : Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting in Dark-sky Preserves (RASC-DSP-GOL)" (PDF). Rasc.ca. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- Tim Hunter (August 28, 2015). "The World's First IDA Dark Sky Nation". International Dark-Sky Association. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Parashant Receives International Dark Sky Status". National Park Service. February 21, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Jasper National Park named world's largest dark sky preserve". Parks Canada. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
- "Wood Buffalo National Park". Parks Canada. 2013-08-03. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- Thompson, Deborah (2013-08-02). "RASC Designates Wood Buffalo National Park as a New Dark Sky Preserve". RASC Announcements. Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- "Cattle Point National Urban Star Park Approved, BC Meteor Network news release, March 29, 2013". Bcmeteors.net. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "Fundy National Park a Dark Sky Preserve". Parks Canada. 2009-06-06. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
- "Kouchibouguac National Park a Dark Sky Preserve". Parks Canada. 2009-06-06. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "esignation requires limited artificial light to protect night skies from light pollution". CanadaEast.com. 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site a Dark Sky Preserve". Parks Canada. 2010-08-07. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "Gordon's Park Dark Sky Preserve". Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. November 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- "The Mt. Megantic IDSR". AstroLab du park national du Mt. Megantic. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Designated as a Dark Sky Preserve". Government of Saskatchewan. 2004-10-08. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- "Dark Sky Preserve designation for Grasslands National Park". Parks Canada. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
- "Beskydy Dark-Sky Park". Boto.cz. 2013.
- "Manětín Dark-Sky Park". Manetinskatma.cz. 2014.
- "Sterne Sehen Ohne Lichtverschmutzung: Deutschlands Dunkelkammer". Berliner-zeitung.de. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "International Dark Sky Reserves". Darksky.org. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- [dead link]
- "Southwest Kerry area receives dark skies designation". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Ramon Crater Named First International Dark Sky Place In The Mideast". Darksky.org. 2017-09-14.
- An Application to the International Dark-Sky Association for a Starlight Reserve in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin of the central South Island of New Zealand (PDF). Mackenzie District Council, University of Canterbury, Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, Department of Conservation. 27 January 2012. p. 25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2017.
- "New Zealand's Aoraki Mackenzie Named World's Largest International Dark Sky Reserve" (PDF). International Dark Sky Association. 9 June 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- McCrone, John (9 June 2012). "Stars in their eyes". The Press. pp. C1–C3. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- "Bieszczady Starry-Sky Park". Gwiezdnebieszczady.pl. 2013.
- "Izera Dark-Sky Park". Izera-darksky.eu. 2009.
- "Poloniny Dark-Sky Park". Poloniny.svetelneznecistenie.sk. 2010.
- "Park tmavej oblohy Kráľova studňa". www.fatranskatma.sk. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- Carrell, Severin (2009-11-16). "Astronomers name Scottish park one of world's best stargazing sites". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- "Lights Out: Tiny Sark Named First 'Dark-Sky' Island". Npr.org. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "Isle of Coll secures 'dark isle' status". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- "Dark sky status awarded to Northumberland Park area". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- Sahagun, Louis (29 July 2017). Dark Sky designation puts Joshua Tree National Park in a new light. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Samuel, Molly (2016-12-02). "South Georgia Park Celebrates 'Dark Sky' Stargazing Status". Wabe.org. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
- "Idaho spot that is the one of the best places in the world to see the Milky Way named America's first 'International Dark Sky Reserve'". Dailymail.co.uk. 2017-12-19. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
- "Lake Hudson Recreation Area". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
- "Negwegon State Park". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "Port Crescent State Park". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "Rockport Recreation Area". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "Thompson's Harbor State Park". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "Wilderness State Park". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "The Headlands". Emmet County. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
- "Chaco Culture National Historical Park International Dark Sky Park Application" (PDF). National Park Service. July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
- "New Mexican Skies Protected with Dark Sky Park Designation (press release)" (PDF). International Dark-Sky Association. August 28, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
- International Dark Sky Association Recognizes state parks in New Mexico and Washington for night sky preservation efforts Archived 2013-08-19 at the Wayback Machine., International Dark-Sky Association news release, June 29, 2010
- "New Ohio Park Commended for Protecting the Nighttime Environment by International Dark-Sky Association (press release)" (PDF). International Dark-Sky Association. August 22, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Clanton & Associates (May 27, 2008). "Cherry Springs State Park: Light Pollution Analysis and Recommendations" (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
- Big Bend National Park designated as an International Dark Sky Park, Earth Sky, Feb. 11, 2012
- "Stars Shine Bright in Dark Sky Parks". Texas Highways, August 6, 2014.
- "Dripping Springs Named The First International Dark Sky Community In Texas". Texas Hill Country Trail newsletter, March 2014.
- Lee Bergquist. "Newport State Park designated as Wisconsin's first 'dark sky' park/". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2017-06-07.
- International Dark Sky Association. Newport State Park (U.S.).
- "Marine Turtle Protection". Myfwc.com. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "Government of Canada reintroduces lost species to the prairie wilderness". Parks Canada. 2009-10-02. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2010-12-01.