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First International Dark Sky Park certified in Norway

Startrails, Full moon and Northern lights, Øvre Pasvik National Park
Startrails, Full Moon and Northern Lights, Øvre Pasvik National Park
 Credit: Bernt Nilsen

Kirkenes, Norway

Øvre Pasvik National Park has achieved a significant milestone as Norway’s inaugural International Dark Sky Place, marking a triumph for preserving pristine nightscapes. Nestled in the country’s northeastern corner, this designation underscores the park’s commitment to reducing light pollution and safeguarding its nocturnal environment. 

With its remote location and stringent conservation efforts, Øvre Pasvik offers unparalleled opportunities for stargazing and observing natural phenomena under unblemished skies. This recognition not only enhances the park’s allure for astronomy enthusiasts but also underscores Norway’s dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism practices. Øvre Pasvik National Park’s new status as an International Dark Sky Place heralds a promising future for preserving natural darkness and fostering appreciation for the wonders of the night sky.

“DarkSky International commends the efforts of the leadership of Øvre Pasvik National Park. With this certification, Øvre Pasvik is now the most Northern International Dark Sky Place, where extremes are as abundant as stars in the sky,” says DarkSky International Program Associate Michael Rymer. “The people of Norway are fortunate to have such beautiful and protected landscapes and wildlife within the park, and now as the country’s first International Dark Sky Place visitors from around the region can take in the beauty of the night sky knowing it too is protected.”

The park, located at 69° North, makes tasks like observing and measuring the night sky challenging because of the midnight Sun shining for two months out of the year in the Summer. On the other hand, the night sky is visible in the daytime during the two months where the Sun does not rise above the horizon at all in the Winter. Additionally, Øvre Pasvik National Park’s high latitude prevents the presence of frequent air traffic, making for a night sky that is free of artificial light. 

Managers of Øvre Pasvik National Park have challenged various local organizations to appreciate and promote the value of a nocturnal environment. While the park only needed to change two light fixtures, much of its efforts focused on making more people understand the value of the situation we already have – and help maintain it. Many meetings have been held with various organizations for environment, tourism, photography and different government levels to gather support for the initiative.

“Our mentor and partner, Bernt Nilsen, has attracted positive attention to our Arctic Sky phenomena with the qualities of the Øvre Pasvik area as the focal point. This has also led to local support for measures against light pollution,” says Kurt Wikan, who heads the Øvre Pasvik National Park Board. “It makes a lot of sense to continue this initiative as an International DarkSky Park. As a member of the DarkSky organization, we get both inspiration and the necessary toolbox.”

Director of Finnmark Estate (Finnmarkseiendommen), Tom Mikalsen, says of his organization that manages around 95% of the county’s total area, “We are proud to support the DarkSky initiative, which helps to fulfill our goal that the land and natural resources must be used in a balanced and sustainable way for the good of the inhabitants of Finnmark and especially as a basis for Sami culture. We aim to manage our property from a perspective of eternity on behalf of future generations.”

Being a National Park in Norway guarantees protection from all sorts of modern development. Earning the international accreditation as an International Dark Sky Park will increase awareness on the importance of protecting the nocturnal environment and further develop public education activities. More information material will be produced for display at both the visitor facilities outside the National Park and at the entrances to the National Park itself, and managers for the park will continue to host educational programs with science centers, school and tourist organizations.

About the International Dark Sky Places Program
Founded in 2001, the International Dark Sky Places Program is a non-regulatory and voluntary program encouraging communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and public education. When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. Øvre Pasvik National Park now joins more than 220 Places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution. Learn more by visiting our website.

About DarkSky International
The mission of DarkSky is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at

Rolf E Sch Kollstrøm
National Park Manager
+47 480 59 308
[email protected]

Amber Harrison

International Dark Sky Places Program Manager
DarkSky International
+1 (520) 347-6363
[email protected]