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Highlights from Under One Sky 2021

This year, we brought you our second annual Under One Sky Global Conference, and you definitely showed up! In fact, we had 800 unique attendees from 61 different countries–making this the largest gathering of dark sky advocates to date. 

The conference reached all of the countries shaded in blue.

We heard incredible presentations and attended workshops from 27 remarkable speakers representing 16 different countries throughout the conference. They touched on themes such as satellite constellations, the importance of community, unique approaches to conserving dark skies, light justice, and the power of art and culture in communicating this work. Under One Sky 2021 was an extraordinary 24-hours brimming with inspiration, the impacts of which will continue to echo in the dark sky movement for a long time. Thank you for sharing this experience with us!



We kicked things off in the Global Open with a few words from IDA Board of Directors President Diane Knutson and a conference overview from IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. From there, we moved into our keynote presentation from Aparna Venkatesan, who offered a poignant view of the future if we continue on the current path of unregulated launches of satellite swarms. She also touched on the vision of co-creating a sustainable future based on collaboration. Immediately following the keynote, we hosted a global networking session where folks got to connect with other advocates from around the world. 

After a short break, we returned with our first regional session–East and South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Here, we heard from Nurul Syahirah Binti Nazarudin, also known as Syahirah Stargazer, from Malaysia. She shared how she uses art to help raise awareness about light pollution. Next, we learned about Nobuaki Ochi’s efforts in Japan, including his experience working with lighting manufacturers and the designation of three International Dark Sky Places. One of which resulted in the return of sea turtle nesting, demonstrating the immediate beneficial effects from the lighting retrofit. We finished the session with Wonkil Jeong from the Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park in South Korea. He highlighted Asia’s first International Dark Sky Place and the efforts to receive the certification and also reflected on some of the outcomes and takeaways from the certification. 

Following the first regional session, we had our first round of engagement workshop sessions, including everything from a workshop on astrophotography in Mandarin to how to conduct a dark city walk to installing a data logging sky quality meter. 

We returned with regional session 2 encompassing Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India. Rayan Khan in Pakistan started us off by discussing how he takes an unconventional approach to dark sky advocacy by using the power of entertainment and art, calling upon the importance of emotional connection and impact. Then, we heard from Abhishek Pawse and Deep Anand from India. They examined the importance of educating the general public about light pollution by utilizing public outreach events and social media tools. Abhishek also spoke about how he has been successful in working with his city to reduce light pollution. Last but not least, Samyukta Manikumar shared some of the lessons that she has learned in her work to create dark sky and astrotourism experiences in Kenya.

Afterward, we had another engagement workshop session. This one featured workshops introducing a few ways to educate and engage the public, exploring light pollution research, and finding values in the dark.

In our last regional session, we began with Alejandro Sommer sharing his work in Argentina. He discussed how he works with the indigenous Guarani People to protect the night sky, which is so vital to their cultural heritage. Then, Daniel Mendoza from the USA talked about how urban lighting is linked to social justice. Finally, we heard from Rémi Boucher, who covered the extraordinary work that has been done by the Mount-Mégantic International Dark Sky Reserve in Quebec, Canada. 

One new addition this year was our Virtual Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Hour. IDA Awards Committee Chair James Lowenthal gave an overview of the IDA Awards and introduced the 2021 recipients with a brief presentation before attendees moved into breakout sessions to network and chat. 

During the Global Close, we were joined by astronauts Ron Garan and John Grunsfeld for a conversation moderated by Mike Simmons from IDA’s Board of Directors. One of the takeaway themes was how their orbital perspective gave them the view that we are all humans on spaceship Earth. Our mistake as humans is to think that we are passengers when we are really crew. It is all of our responsibility to work together to protect this spaceship and our views outside it for future generations. The panel was incredibly insightful and left an indelible mark on anyone who attended. 

Missed a session or workshop? Want to rewatch and share your favorite one? You can find the recordings on our YouTube channel. Additionally, we have provided links to each recording on

Stitched panorama of the Milky Way by Daniel Galluppi submitted as part of the 2021 Capture the Dark Photography Contest.

Inspired to Take Action?

We hope that you came away from the conference inspired and empowered to take action in your community!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • If you aren’t already, consider becoming an IDA Member.
  • If you can, give to our Unveil the Night matching gifts campaign.
  • Sign up for training and begin the process of becoming an advocate:
    • Session 1 Dec 14, 5 PM UTC (10 AM MST). Register here.
    • Session 2 Dec 14, 1 AM UTC (6 PM MST). Register here.
      (This is the same training at two different times, please select one.)
  • Grab a piece of Under One Sky or IDA merchandise at our Bonfire shop.
  • Find the International Dark Sky Place nearest to you.
  • Rewatch and share your favorite presentations from the conference here.

Thank you again for sharing this memorable experience with us!

Our next event is International Dark Sky Week on April 22-30, 2022. Please mark your calendars and watch for details.