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Astronomical Heritage Finder

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In collaboration
with the

International Astronomical Union

Dark Skies Information

 

Map of Dark Sky Protected Locations

The BiophereSmart Initiative in partnership with UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and supported by the Starlight Initiative and INTERRA has created a very useful interactive world map, listing Astronomical Heritage Sites in conjunction with Dark Sky Protected Areas.

View the interactive dark sky protected areas map with information sourced from various organisations, as detailed below. 

Read on for information on key Dark Sky Places and important resources.


 

Photographer: Babak A. Tafreshi - twanight.org

The International Dark Sky Association

What is an International Dark Sky Place?

The International Dark Sky Places Program promotes preservation and protection of night skies across the globe. Areas include communities, parks and reserves.

Certified International Dark Sky Reserves

The International Dark Sky Association defines a Dark Sky Reserve as a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area.

Key certified reserves featuring gold star status - where a complete collection of certain sky phenomena can be seen - include the Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve in New Zealand, the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia and the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve in Ireland. There are only a handful of reserves with current official status, see here for the full list of Dark Sky Reserves.

 

 

Certified International Dark Sky Parks

An official Dark Sky Park is defined by the International Dark Sky Association as a park or other public land possessing exceptional starry skies and a natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resources. View a complete list of Dark Sky Parks, featuring magnificent star-viewing locations such as the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland, the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, US and the Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water Forest Park in Northumberland, England.

International Dark Sky Communities

International Dark Sky Communities are defined by the IDA as a town, city, municipality, or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of quality lighting codes, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies. Complete list of International Dark Sky Communities.

 

World List of Dark Sky Protected Areas

Established in 2009, the IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group (DSAG) provides advice and guidance on behalf of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to other bodies in regards to light pollution and dark sky values, in particular as they relate to the ecological and commemorative integrity, visitor appreciation and public understanding of protected areas, and the long term maintenance of dark sky values for future generations.

World List of Dark Sky Protected Areas

 

StarParks

A StarPark is defined as a window to the firmament that each community voluntarily designates to enjoy the starry night sky. Its function is to claim and secure the right to starlight, especially for future generations. A StarPark is an oasis that each community designates for stargazing/observing, a site where to learn under the stars, with a view to progressively enlarge its area of influence.

Register your park or observing grounds as part of the Global StarPark Network.

 

The Starlight Initiative

Photographer: Babak A. Tafreshi - twanight.org

An objective of the Starlight Initiative in partnership with the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), is to promote international action in defence of the quality of the night sky and the observation of the stars, reinforcing the right to their enjoyment and use as a scientific, cultural and environmental resource and a vector of technological development to the benefit of mankind.

Read the full Declaration in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight.

Read more about exceptional sky-viewing sites and case study areas.

The Starlight Foundation

The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to develop programs and actions to provide a different way of protecting and defending the sky and of valuing it as a resource necessary for life and the intangible heritage of humanity.

A certification system is used to accredit areas with excellent sky quality due to protection and conservation. This system is supported by UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

What is a Starlight Reserve?

A Starlight Reserve is a protected natural area where a commitment to protecting the quality of the night sky and access to starlight is established

List of Starlight Reserves and Tourism Destinations

 

Starparks - "One Star at a Time" Initiative

The "One Star at a Time" program is a worldwide effort to create accessible public spaces to view a starry night sky. A StarPark is an oasis that each community designates for stargazing/observing, a site where to learn under the stars, with a view to progressively enlarge its area of influence.

List of all Starparks

 

Photographs on this page are courtesy of TWAN founder and National Geographic photographer, Babak A. Tafreshi.

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