30 Jun

Map of the Week: International Dark Sky Places

By Catherine McKenna

Do you have any travel plans this summer? Consider visiting an International Dark Sky Place (IDSP) for stunning views of the night sky! The IDSP program was created 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.” There are 195 certified International Dark Sky Places across the world. 





This composite image was made using data from the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP Spacecraft.

Light on the ground that scatters in the atmosphere and back into our eyes blotting out stars is a form of skyglow, which is also responsible for creating the hazy effect of light over cities at night. Billions of people around the world experience light pollution in the form of skyglow, which is why traveling to a dark sky place to see stars covering the night sky can be so rewarding.

In order for a place to be designated as an IDSP, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has a rigorous application process. Applicants must demonstrate strong community support for dark-sky protection, and applications are reviewed by a standing committee of previously successful applicants among dark-sky experts. 

Use this link to find a Dark Sky Place near you. 



 This image was taken by Catherine McKenna at Newport State Park, WI in 2019. Newport State Park is a designated Dark Sky Park.