International Dark Sky Reserves ~ a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area. The International Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and receives benefits from them as well. The International Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners and/or administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning.

The IDSReserve program is the epitome of IDA's mission. Working to preserve a central core that is valuable because of its natural night, communities band together to create public awareness campaigns and conduct retrofits to restore the night sky. Each reserve shown below has gone above and beyond the requirements as stated in our International Dark Sky Reserve Guidelines.

International Dark Sky Reserves

Three tiers designate the quality of night skies the reserve is recognized for. Gold represents the highest award representing the darkest skies, followed by the Silver and Bronze designations. Requirements for each of the designations are shown in the table below. 






Artificial Light and Skyglow

Typical observer is not distracted by glary light sources. Light domes are only dim and restricted to sky close to horizon.

Point light sources and glary lights do not dominate nighttime scene. Light domes present around horizon but do not stretch to zenith.

Areas with greater artificial light and skyglow than Silver, but where aspects of the natural sky are still visible.

Visual Limiting Magnitude

Equal or greater than 6.8 under clear skies and good seeing conditions

6.0 to 6.7 under clear skies and good conditions

5.0-5.9 under clear skies and good seeing conditions

Bortle Sky Class




Observable Sky Phenomena

The full array of visible sky phenomena can be viewed—e.g. aurora, airglow, Milky Way, zodiacal light, and faint meteors

Brighter sky phenomena can be regularly viewed, with fainter ones sometimes visible. Milky Way is visible in summer and winter.

Many sky phenomena cannot be seen. Milky Way is faintly seen when pointed out, as is Andromeda Galaxy.

Unihedron Sky Quality Meter

21.75 or above

21.00 or above

20.00 or above


The International Dark-Sky Association continues to accept applications from reserves wishing to join in the ranks of the highest prestige for nighttime visages.

If you are interested in applying or learning more about the process please fill out this form

Download the Current Guidelines

Applications received on or before the 23 March 2015 submission deadline are eligible to apply under the 2013 program guidelines. Download them here:

Download the Guidelines (2013)

Download Chinese translation of the guidelines: 點擊此處下載指南: 黑暗的天空儲備 (Dark Sky Reserve)

Download the IDA-RASC-Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting


Download Chinese translation of the IDA-RASC-GOL: 點擊此處下載指南: 室外照明指引


 Translations courtesy of IDA Beijing / Starry Sky Project of China


Submission Deadline Dates:
26 January 2015
23 March 2015
25 May 2015
27 July 2015
28 September 2015
23 November 2015


Certified International Dark Sky Reserves



Year Established


Mont Mégantic

Quebec, Canada



Exmoor National Park

Devon and Somerset Counties, England, United Kingdom



Aoraki Mackenzie

New Zealand



NamibRand Nature Reserve




Brecon Beacons National Park

Wales, UK



Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve / Réserve Internationale de Ciel Étoilé du Pic du Midi




Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve




Westhavelland International Dark Sky Reserve / Sternenpark Westhavelland

Brandenburg, Germany


Rhön International Dark Sky Reserve / Sternenpark Rhön
 Bavaria and Thuringia, Germany  2014  Gold