International Dark Sky Association (IDA) Accreditation

The IDA Dark Sky Places Program (IDSP)

IDSP was founded 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.

The Program offers five certification categories:

  1. International Dark Sky Sanctuaries
    Sanctuaries are the most remote (and often darkest) places in the world whose conservation state is most fragile. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Urban Night Sky Places
    Urban Night Sky Places are sites near or surrounded by large urban environs whose planning and design actively promote an authentic nighttime experience in the midst of significant artificial light at night.
  5. International Dark Sky Communities
    Communities are legally organized cities and towns that adopt quality outdoor lighting ordinances and undertake efforts to educate residents about the importance of dark skies.


    Where are the International Dark Sky Places located?

    As of January 2023, there are 201 certified Dark Sky Places in the world. These include 115 Parks, 38 Communities, 20 Reserves, 16 Sanctuaries, 6 Urban Night Sky Places, and 6 Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction. See where they are located on this interactive map.

    How are International Dark Sky Places certified?

    IDA certifies 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.

    Applications are reviewed periodically by an IDA standing committee composed of dark-sky experts and previously successful program applicants. Regular status updates after certification ensure that IDSPs continue their commitment to dark-sky preservation.

    Upon certification, IDA works with certified places to promote their work through media relations, member communications, and social media. An International Dark Sky Place certification helps enhance the visibility of designated locations and foster increased tourism and local economic activity.

    Learn More

    There is a wealth of additional information and resources on the IDA Website