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Light pollution

What is light pollution?

The alteration of light levels in the outdoor environment from those occurring naturally due to human-made sources of light. Put more simply: human-made light where it should be dark

Components of light pollution include:

  • Glare — excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort.
  • Sky glow — brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas.
  • Light trespass — light falling where it is not intended or needed.

Is light pollution bad?

Yes, light pollution disrupts the natural day/night pattern of our environment, impacting all living things — similar to running a bulldozer over a landscape. A growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky directly to measurable negative impacts, including:

Learn more about the effects of light pollution.

What can be done about light pollution?

There are many ways to tackle the over-lighting of the night, such as:

Learn more in the Light pollution and Get involved sections.

How do you measure light pollution?

Taking measurements of the sky brightness at night is an important part of scientific research into light pollution and its effects. Efforts are undertaken by large bodies, such as NASA and universities, to grassroots community-driven ones you can participate in using a smartphone app. Learn more

How do you do a sky quality survey?

There are several ways to conduct a survey, such as using a sky quality meter (SQM). Learn more by reading How to conduct a sky quality survey.

Where can I find resources for talks and presentations?

We try to make it easier for you to spread the word about night skies in your community by making a range of print, PDF, and shareable materials available for download in our Resources section.

Outdoor lighting

How can I get my neighbor to not shine their light in my window?

Unwanted light is light pollution, and this type is called light trespass. Learn what you can do in My neighbor’s lighting.

I’m a renter. What can I do to reduce light pollution?

As a renter, sometimes your options are limited. We have a guide for What renters can do about light pollution.

How do I find lighting fixtures that are dark sky friendly?

We don’t sell outdoor light fixtures directly, but we certify DarkSky Approved Lighting made by various manufacturers. You can also look for the DarkSky Approved seal at your local hardware and/or lighting retailer.

Public policy

How do I find out if there’s a lighting ordinance in my community?

Lighting ordinances are important to ensure that communities are making the right choices regarding outdoor lighting. Find out if your community has one.

How do I get a lighting ordinance enforced?

A lighting ordinance isn’t very useful if it’s not enforced. See our Lighting ordinances page to help you ensure that your lighting ordinance is getting the job done.

How do I get a lighting ordinance passed in my community?

Getting a lighting ordinance passed can be difficult, but we’ve got tips for you on our Lighting ordinances page.

Will you review my lighting ordinance?

While we do not conduct reviews of existing or proposed lighting policies, we do offer comprehensive resources to decision-makers to develop effective lighting policies:

Do you have model language for a bill, policy, ordinance, etc.?

We are in the process of updating our Model Lighting Ordinance. For more information, see the Public policy page.

International Dark Sky Places

What is an International Dark Sky Place?

International Dark Sky Places are protected areas and communities around the world certified by DarkSky International to meet strict criteria for protection of the night sky and minimization of light pollution through responsible lighting policies and public education. Learn more about Dark Sky Places.

How do I get Dark Sky Place certification?

Please review the Apply for Dark Sky Place certification and International Dark Sky Places FAQ page.

How do I find places where there are dark skies?

We have a map of DarkSky-certified International Dark Sky Places. You can also visit to find other areas with no or minimal light pollution.

Can I visit a Dark Sky Place?

Yes! All of our International Dark Sky Places guarantee regular nighttime public access so that visitors may enjoy a quality nighttime experience. International Dark Sky Places all over the world are maintained by third parties (not us), but you can find information about visiting one near you in our Dark Sky Places section.

Also, this article may help you in Planning Your Next Trip to the Dark Side.

What is the best Dark Sky Place to visit?

“Best” depends on a lot of factors, like where you’re located and what you’re looking for, among others. Each Dark Sky Place is unique and offers a range of values and experiences for its visitors. In addition to viewing the stars, you might plan on visiting Places based on:

  • Cultural and historic stories
  • Dynamic landscapes
  • Outreach events that align with your interests, such as night hikes, astrophotography, or week-long festivals
  • Site-specific views of celestial objects, such as hemisphere-specific constellations or the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis
  • Proximity to your home
  • Why don’t you begin by looking through the list for places nearest you?

Is X Place darker than Y Place?

We don’t currently track this data, but you could compare night sky quality readings from each International Dark Sky Place’s application and annual reports, which are downloadable from each Place’s page. Generally, the International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, Parks, and Reserves under the Gold Tier have the darkest night skies. Places certified after 2018 are no longer associated with a Tier label, but many Parks boast top-tier night sky quality.

Membership and donations

What does my membership support?

Your membership and donations support our work to protect the night from light pollution and to promote responsible outdoor lighting that is beautiful, functional, and healthy. Learn more about our annual financial report in the About section. []

What are the benefits of membership?

By joining us, you become part of a worldwide network of people committed to protecting the night from light pollution. Our members donate to DarkSky monthly and annually and receive the following benefits:

What are DarkSky’s membership levels?

As a member of DarkSky, you are an important part of a worldwide network working to protect the night from light pollution.

DarkSky membership levels:

  • Subscriber — Receives electronic communications; not necessarily a paid member.
  • Annual Donor — Financially supports DarkSky annually and receives members-only benefits.
  • Nighthawk Monthly Donor — Financially supports DarkSky monthly and receives members-only benefits.

How long will my membership be valid?

Your DarkSky membership is valid for one year, and we will reach out to you on your anniversary date to renew. DarkSky invites you to participate in special fundraising appeals throughout the year. Donations to these appeals support programs and activities and help DarkSky have a greater impact around the world. We appreciate all of your support! 

Can I contribute to DarkSky monthly?

The Nighthawk Monthly Giving Club members support DarkSky by reducing our environmental impact, thus allowing us to put even more of your generous gift to work for dark sky protection.

Become a Nighthawk monthly contributor now!

Can I make a gift membership?

Absolutely! Gift memberships are a thoughtful way to honor a loved one’s commitment to the night sky.

We’re currently revamping our Gift Membership form; for now please use the Annual membership form and then email [email protected] with:

  • Name of giftee
  • Giftee‘s mailing address
  • Giftee’s email address
  • Any message you want them to receive

Do you accept stock gifts?

Yes, learn more on the Ways to give page.

What if I don’t want to receive mail from DarkSky?

You don’t have to! You can opt out of receiving paper communications from DarkSky. We’ll send you digital news and updates. To opt out of paper communications, select the “Please opt me out of paper communications” button at the bottom of the membership form.

Will my information remain private?

Yes. DarkSky does not share our members’ personal information outside of the organization for any reason without your explicit permission. If there is a DarkSky chapter in your area, a qualified chapter leader may contact you about local activities and volunteer opportunities. For more info, read our Privacy policy.

Is my membership tax deductible? 

Your membership contribution is tax-deductible in the United States, as allowed by law. DarkSky is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization, registered in the state of Arizona. Our EIN is 74-2493011.

Whom should I contact with membership questions?

Contact us here.

Corporate Partners and sponsorships

What is a Corporate Partner?

Our Corporate Partners are dedicated members of the dark sky protection community that support programs, outreach, education, and night sky conservation efforts on many fronts. Corporate Partners enjoy many benefits: customized packages, media exposure, DarkSky program and event underwriting opportunities, and more. Learn about Corporate Partner benefits.

Can my business donate a percentage of sales to DarkSky?

Yes! A commercial co-venture (CCV) is an advertising or sales campaign that communicates that the purchase of goods or services offered by a business will benefit a charitable organization in the process. “Percentage of sales” promotions are a good example. In the last decade, this kind of “cause marketing” has met with enormous success.

It’s important to know that such campaigns trigger legal obligations for businesses and charities alike. In the United States, most state regulators require the charitable beneficiary to register to fundraise in the states where the offer is going to be made, and businesses will incur front-end costs with a CCV. Creating a CCV promotion includes creating a compliant contract, drafting compliant disclosures, obtaining bonds where necessary, and filing contracts where necessary. The cost to the business is estimated at around $5,000 for the first time a promotion is run, though renewal costs are much less.

Can my business make a tax-deductible donation to DarkSky without a partnership agreement?

Small businesses are welcomed and encouraged to donate to DarkSky and to identify themselves to their audiences and patrons as proud DarkSky supporters. In the United States, depending on the legal requirements of your state, your business donation may be an eligible tax deduction; please check with your CPA or a tax consultant.

It is permitted for signage and communications to indicate that your business donates to DarkSky, but language indicating that a portion of proceeds from specific sales will be donated to DarkSky should be avoided unless the applicable legal agreements for a commercial co-venture have been put in place. DarkSky will happily provide signage for your business. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

How can I sponsor the Annual Global Conference?

See the Corporate Partners page.

Can I donate photos or videos to DarkSky?

We love the creative and unique ways our supporters find to help us further our mission! We welcome photographers, videographers, authors, and contributors of all kinds to donate their work for us to share with our global audience. Our development and fundraising team is in the process of creating a program to formally recognize collateral donations such as photos, videos, and other products. Please contact the Communications team with questions or for more information.

Are Corporate Partners the same as DarkSky Approved manufacturers or retailers?

No, they are different. The DarkSky Approved program is a certification service with associated fees, an application process, and product quality guidelines. Our Corporate Partners support DarkSky’s mission through donations that underwrite our operations, events, and special programs.

While DarkSky Approved companies may elect to also become Corporate Partners, DarkSky keeps our accounting and communications surrounding these relationships separate. DarkSky does not endorse the products or services of our Corporate Partners in any communications surrounding the Corporate Partners program.

General questions about DarkSky International

How long has DarkSky been in existence?

The International Dark-Sky Association was founded in 1988 to protect the night from light pollution. In 2023, we rebranded as DarkSky.

How big is DarkSky International?

We are a small organization with a big impact! While our headquarters staff is small, our volunteer base is wide and global, with chapters, colleagues, and partners around the world.

Can someone from DarkSky speak at my event?

Possibly! Our staff travel budget is very limited, but if your organization can pay travel expenses it’s more likely we can speak at your event; contact us here with your event’s details. DarkSky also has many volunteer chapters located around the globe, and you may find someone closer to you who can give a talk.

Do you have local chapters?

DarkSky has numerous chapters all around the world. Together with DarkSky delegates and affiliates, chapters are working in their communities to protect the night from light pollution.

Learn more about:

Does DarkSky have volunteer opportunities available?

Yes! There are two ways to get involved:

  1. DarkSky International (global headquarters) volunteers work directly with DarkSky staff to support our operations. Volunteers are matched to the current needs of the organization. To explore volunteer opportunities with DarkSky Headquarters, see the Get involved section.
  2. DarkSky Advocates around the world receive support and training from DarkSky International to protect the night from light pollution in their communities. To learn more about our advocacy program, contact Bettymaya Foott at [email protected].

What is the difference between an Advocate and a Delegate?

DarkSky Advocates are volunteer members of the dark sky movement and community.

Learn more

DarkSky Delegates are Advocates who are local points of contact and submit annual reports of their dark sky efforts for their region.

Learn more

Can my company sponsor your organization?

If you are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor of DarkSky or of one of our events, please see our Corporate Partner Program.

Where can I download DarkSky’s logo?

Our brand assets are available here.

Can I use your photos?

We make a wide variety of photos, illustrations, and infographics available for free educational use, in our Resources section. Copyright and licensing information is available for most images. We also have a press kit available for download.

DarkSky brand name

What happened to the name International Dark-Sky Association?

In 2023, the International Dark-Sky Association became DarkSky. We needed to modernize our brand and the old name was a bit of a mouthful. Read more about the decision in our News section.

Is it “DarkSky” or “DarkSky International”?

It’s both.

As an international organization with over 70 chapters, our name needed to accommodate many, many chapter names. We also needed to modernize the brand. So now our parent organization is DarkSky. Chapters are named DarkSky New York, DarkSky Malta, DarkSky Japan, and so on.

You can also always refer to the parent as DarkSky International, such as when you need to a) distinguish between a chapter and the parent, e.g., “DarkSky New York is a chapter of DarkSky International”; or b) emphasize the fact that we are an international organization. Otherwise, the short form of DarkSky is preferred.

Do you ever use an acronym to shorten the name?

We never use an acronym anymore; DarkSky is short enough. 😉 It’s also our web address — Handy, yes?

For Advocates

When is the next Advocates meeting? How do I know when they are scheduled?

Join the Advocates Slack channel or contact our Director of Engagement.

Where can I find the recording of the Advocates meeting?

All recordings can be found at this link.

Website support and help

I’m having problems with something on the website. Can someone help me?

You bet! Contact the web team here.