An IDA Dark Sky Sanctuary is public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.
A sanctuary differs from a Dark Sky Park or Reserve in that it is typically situated in a very remote location with few (if any) nearby threats to the quality of its dark night skies and it does not otherwise meet the requirements for designation as a park or reserve. The typical geographic isolation of Dark Sky Sanctuaries significantly limits opportunities for public outreach, so a sanctuary designation is specifically designed to increase awareness of these fragile sites and promote their long-term conservation.
Certified IDA International Dark Sky Sanctuaries
- !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park (South Africa)
- Aotea / Great Barrier Island (New Zealand)
- Black Gap Wildlife Management Area (U.S.)
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (U.S.)
- Cosmic Campground (U.S.)
- Devils River State Natural Area - Del Norte Unit (U.S.)
- Gabriela Mistral (Chile)
- Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (U.S.)
- Massacre Rim (U.S.)
- Medicine Rocks State Park (U.S.)
- Niue (NU)
- Pitcairn Islands (B.O.T.)
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument (U.S.)
- Stewart Island / Rakiura (New Zealand)
- The Jump-Up (Australia)
Designate an International Dark Sky Sanctuary
IDA designates International Dark Sky Places following a rigorous application process requiring applicants to demonstrate robust community support for dark sky protection and document designation-specific program requirements. Learn more and start the process here.
Download the current International Dark Sky Sanctuary guidelines2018 International Dark Sky Sanctuary Guidelines (PDF)
2018 International Dark Sky Sanctuary Checklist
Submission and Review Process
IDSP applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and in the order they are received. When the applicant completes a draft application, they will need to email a single PDF document to the Director of Conservation with the name of the site and designation type in the subject line. Staff will reach out to the applicant with further instructions and guidance to craft a complete and thorough application. Once IDA Staff deems the application complete, it will be provided with a batch of other completed nominations to the Dark Sky Places Committee (DSPC) for consideration.
Resources for applicantsSample Lighting Management Plan (PDF)
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting (PDF)
How to conduct a night sky quality survey