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The International Dark Sky Places program is an independent, third-party review and certification of outstanding dark sky conditions and protection practices. Over 200 places around the world have been certified since 2001.

Quetico Provincial Park
Quetico PP Milky Way 2019 09

General questions

What are the benefits of becoming certified as an International Dark Sky Place?

What steps do I need to take to apply?

What criteria determine site eligibility?

For Parks, Sanctuaries, and Reserves, what does it mean to be “legally protected”?

How long does it take to complete an application to become certified?

How much does it cost to apply?

Whom can I talk to about getting certified?

What do I need to submit an application inquiry?

I have submitted the application fee, so what should I get started on first?

What is required to maintain certification in good standing?

Nominating a Dark Sky Place

Can a “Friends of” or other advocacy or organized group apply for certification on behalf of a Place?

Who is a qualified DarkSky nominator?

Where do I send letters of nomination and support?

Can I restart an old application for certification?

Night sky quality

How do we determine night sky quality at our site?

How many handheld sky quality meter (SQM) readings do we need to complete for certification?


How do I get support from my local community for a new Dark Sky Place?

How much outreach do we need to document to become certified?

Lighting and policy

What is the definition of an outdoor light?

How do I know if a light complies with DarkSky’s standards?

What does “City-owned” lighting cover?

Will specific lighting (such as a manufacturing plant or other industry) in our Dark Sky Community prevent us from getting certified?

What does the lighting policy include?

Is there a sample lighting policy that we can follow?

Who writes and enforces outdoor lighting policies?