About IDA

Once a source of wonder--and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment—the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

The Natural Night:

A Disappearing Resource


© Jim Richardson

IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution. Founded in 1988, IDA is the first organization to call attention to the hazards of light pollution, and in 24 years of operation our accomplishments have been tremendous.

We promote one simple idea: light what you need, when you need it. We know some light at night is necessary for safety and recreation. We work with manufacturers, planners, legislators, and citizens to provide energy efficient options that direct the light where you want it to go, not uselessly up into the sky.



Our approach of public awareness and extensive partnerships is improving nighttime lighting on six continents. IDA acts on numerous issues to create a platform as expansive as the sky itself. Achievements include:

Protection of natural nights


© Jim Richardson

  • IDA offers support in crafting ordinances. IDA members are directly responsible for initiating numerous state, local, even national lighting ordinances. Recent victories include statewide ordinances in Hawaii, USA; New Hampshire, USA; and national legislation in Italy.
  • A comprehensive guide to creating an effective ordinance is under construction and will soon be available.
  • IDA’s International Dark Sky Places conservation program ensures starry spaces for future generations. Designations for Parks, Preserves, Communities, and Developments of Distinction create dark sites in urban, suburban, rural, and wild spaces. IDSPlaces often capitalize on sustainable tourism due to their stunning—and protected—starry night skies.

Energy reduction through quality outdoor lighting

  • 22% of all energy generated in the U.S. is used for lighting, with 8% of that used for public outdoor lighting. IDA opened an Office of Public Policy and Government Affairs in Washington, DC in 2009 to inform lawmakers and lobbyists on energy efficiency in outdoor lighting and promote research and adoption of energy saving measures.
  • IDA’s Fixture Seal of Approval program offers a third party rating system to determine the sky friendliness of lighting fixtures based on photometric readings. IDA then works directly with approved manufacturers to promote energy efficient, fully shielded lighting that protects the night sky—and your neighborhood’s view of the stars! 100 manufacturers offer over 300 types of IDA approved fixtures (over 1000 total selection), and membership in this popular program grows every year.

IDA’s coordinated global effort is making a difference, one light, one star, one region at a time. Donations go toward protecting some of the darkest recognized areas on the planet and creating more. Join the IDA community and help us reclaim the night!


Light pollution is growing at the rate of 4%- far faster than the population. As developing countries embrace the use of electric light, light pollution promises to get even worse. There is a solution! Quality lighting benefits the entire community and erases effects of light pollution.


More Reasons to Join:

Stray light inhibits astronomy

IDA works with professional astronomers worldwide to create and present research on the best and worst types of lighting for astronomy. IDA members and associates serve on committees to determine guidelines for observatory zone lighting around the world.

Poorly designed lighting decreases safety and security

IDA has worked with members of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) to include strategically placed night sky friendly lighting as part of community designs for crime prevention.

Light at night disturbs animals and ecosystems

  • In the International Dark Sky Places program IDA members work directly with conservation experts and park officials to minimize ecological impact of artificial lighting in the world’s wild spaces.
  • IDA directly collaborates with field ecologists to protect birds, fireflies, sea turtles, and other affected flora and fauna.
  • IDA collects information and creates material that volunteers, planners, and environmental groups use to design urban lighting that protects ecosystems adjacent to and affected by urban waste while considering the needs of the area.


© Jim Richardson

Light at night affects humans, too

In 2008, IDA board member Mario Motta helped pass the American Medical Association’s Resolution 516 to support light pollution reduction and glare reduction efforts. In 2012, the AMA issued a comprehensive report identifying health implications from Light at Night.

We cant lose our culture and heritage!

IDA believes that a lost view of the stars extinguishes a connection with the natural world and blinds us to one of the most splendid wonders in the universe. Children who grow up without the experience of a starry night miss invaluable opportunities to speculate about larger questions and to learn about the environment and larger world.

A number of IDA materials are designed specifically for children. In 2009, IDA"s collaboration with the Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone project during the International Year of Astronomy helped spread light pollution through star counting programs, fixture switch-out guides, and hands-on activities like podcasts and coloring books.

For adults, IDA creates PowerPoint presentations, brochures, literature, a quarterly newsletter, and bi-weekly e-News updates. IDA members enjoy the latest information on global light pollution and astronomical happenings, as well as special opportunities for drawings and discounts.

IDA has 58 Chapters in 16 countries. These localized IDA groups work directly with IDA staff members to curtail light pollution in their area, and many are responsible for significant and lasting change.