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 Guidelines

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


 Translation courtesy of IDA Beijing / Starry Sky Project of China



Release of Updates to IDSPlaces Guidelines

Updated guidelines for communities, parks, and reserves have been released. Please refer to these new guidelines when applying for designation.

If you are interested in developing or are currently developing an application for a location we encourage you to consider these new guidelines. Locations that are currently developing applications, and have made substantial progress (as approved by the IDA program manager) will have until 25 November 2013 to complete and submit their applications under the previous guidelines. The previous guidelines have been removed from the website but are available upon request. To submit under the previous guidelines you must have contact with the program manager and receive approval.

As part of the new guidelines bi-monthly submission deadlines will be set. These dates will be updated yearly. The deadlines represent the date that the applications (already reviewed and approved by the IDA program manager) will be sent to the committee. This year's dates are listed below:

Submission Deadline Dates:

27 January 2014
24 March 2014
26 May 2014
28 July 2014
22 September 2014
24 November 2014


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

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