Light sanctuary

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A light protection area ( English dark sky place , DSP ) is a landscape protection area in which nocturnal darkness is regarded as a protected asset and which is protected from even very slight light pollution ("light smog").

Examples of names of such protected areas are Dark Sky Park , Dark Sky Preserve , Starlight Reserve , Starlight Oasis , Starlight Theme Park , Starry Sky Park or Urban Star Park . In German, light protection areas are also designated as star parks.

Protection intention

The earth at night 2007 (composed of satellite images)

The realization that a lack of natural darkness is an important aspect of environmental and nature protection is more recent. On the one hand, it comes from biology, where it is particularly about the enormous disturbance of the insect populations, which have been developing completely different ways of life for almost two centuries since the advent of artificial lighting due to their swarming and mating behavior fixed on light sources - originally probably related to the moon . This is where the relatively young field of Scotobiology (darkness biology ) has its roots .

On the other hand, it is an important topic in observational astronomy , for which the natural night sky is the existential basis of work: By avoiding and reducing artificial light and scattered light , it is possible to observe a particularly large number of self-luminous celestial objects when the sky is cloudless . The aim is to be able to actually use the theoretical freedom of vision in the sky, i.e. the limitation by the light sensitivity of the eye, and the sensitivity limits of the respective telescopes. In addition to astronomical observation, light protection areas are also used for education, training and public relations. Therefore, the avoidance of light pollution is increasingly being discussed in the field of scientific as well as hobby astronomy.

A third context is energy saving , since the uselessly radiated amount of light is now assuming enormous proportions worldwide: Light pollution is the amount of light produced that cannot be used for lighting purposes, i.e. the loss of lighting.

Only recently has it been recognized that night darkness - in particular the visibility of the Milky Way - should generally be a cultural asset worthy of protection , and also a personal right . This is not only in the sense of protection against nuisance from lighting, but as a general human right to a natural resource, which a “right-to-darkness” movement has now adopted.

historical development

Protected Areas (IUCN)
Year: No. km²
2000: 2 00
2005: 5 00
2010: 025
2015: 100
2018: 169
IUCN World List

Based on the procedure of building large ground-based observatories completely far away from any settlement ( Atacama , Mauna Kea, etc.), optical observatories were contractually secured by protection zones with the neighbors, often to the extent of several dozen kilometers ( contractual nature conservation ) - for example at the McDonald Observatory (Texas) above 90 kilometers. The entire islands of La Palma and Tenerife received an explicit legal basis in 1988 ( Ley del Cielo , for the European Northern Observatory , the most important large observatories in Europe).

There are internationally organized associations that monitor and assess compliance with the relevant requirements, such as the International Astronomical Union  (IAU), the British Astronomical Association  (BAA) or the Light-Pollution Abatement Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada  (RASC) .

A first permanent express light protection area was established in 1999 in the Torrance Barrens as a Canadian Dark-Sky Preserve , until the early 2010s, around 20 protected areas were designated as part of the RASC program within the national protected areas, which pursue primarily astronomical protection intentions, with an area of about 58,000 km² (far more than all of Switzerland). In 1999 Chile protected its locations for the observatories with the Norma Luminic ( ESO , CTIO-NOAO , etc.). In the USA, too, some such protected areas were created in the later 2000s, here around 17,000 km² are already declared.

The legal basis for designating a light protection area has existed, for example, in the Czech Republic, the pioneer in European legislation on light pollution, since 2002 (however, an area was only set up cross-border with Poland in 2009). Other states and regions are also beginning to establish light pollution protection on a legal basis. The first European light protection areas - after the Canary Islands - were the Zselici Csillagoségbolt-park in Hungary, the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland and the Czech-Polish Izera Dark-Sky Park ( Izerski Park Ciemnego Nieba / Jizerská oblast tmavé oblohy ) at the end of 2009 (in the course of the initiative Dark Skies Awareness of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 - IYA2009).

The light protection experienced a further boom with the Declaration in Defense of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight ( La Palma Declaration ; Initiative Starlight 2007 ). UNESCO held a conference on the Canary Island of La Palma , which is designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve and has had a law for light protection measures since 1988 (European Northern Observatory). It is there that the concept of the UNESCO Starlight Reserves , corresponding to the biosphere reserves, was developed. There the Starlight Foundation (Fundacion Starlight) was founded by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias  (IAC) in 2009 . In 2010, a study by the IAU and ICOMOS was officially noted that natural sky darkness is in principle a subject of protection as part of the UNESCO World Heritage .

In addition to UNESCO, the Dark Skies Advisory Group  (DSAG) , also founded in 2009, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources  (IUCN) and, in the course of the 2000s, the International Dark-Sky Association  (IDA) in Arizona (founded in 1988 ) Classification systems.

In the 2010s there was then a significant increase in light protection areas, extensive in the extent of an entire stretch of land up to small observation areas. In 2013 there were around 50 IUCN-classified light protection areas worldwide, with a total area of ​​around 84,000 km². At the end of 2018 there were around 170 protected areas, with 184,500 km².


Visual darkness

General astronomical and metrological categories for general sky brightness are, for example, the Bortle scale ( apparent brightness / magnitude likes astronomical objects that are still recognizable) and the relevant common unihedron measurement (information in size classes / square arc seconds , mag / arcsec 2 ) . They are used to quantify the natural darkness potential of an area and the quality of the light protection measures. The International Dark Sky Association  (IDA) then awards gold , silver and bronze, for example .

In the highest category of darkness, stars with an apparent brightness above 6.8 can be recognized with the naked eye (average good eyesight) when the view is clear , that is, about 6500 stars that are clear-sighted in the astronomical sense ("counted in the sky" ) be valid.

UNESCO classification of light protection areas

The concept of the Starlight Reserves of UNESCO, created by the WHC (World Heritage Commission) and the IAU (International Astronomical Union) as part of the Astronomy and World Heritage initiative and the MaB Urban Ecology Program at the conference in La Palma 2007, provides for the following area categories :

  • Starlight Heritage Sites ('Starlight / Heavenly Cultural Heritage Sites '): archaeological or cultural sites with a special reference to the starry sky - for example, World Heritage Jantar Mantar , India or the Gaocheng Observatory , China
  • Starlight Astronomy Sites: outstanding observation sites
  • Starlight Natural Sites: as part of the overall protection of the integrity of natural environmental conditions ( nature reserves in the sense of the general term)
  • Starlight Landscapes: Protection of night darkness within the framework of the landscape ( landscape protection areas )
  • Starlight Oases - human habitats ('starlight oasis'): Places in populated areas that are particularly suitable for star gazing (regions known for a beautiful starry sky, rural places with special consideration for light protection, tourism destinations with a focus on astronomy and star gazing, urban star parks )
  • Mixed Starlight Sites ('mixed starlight sites'): mixed forms of the above categories

In the UNESCO concept, a management plan is required that covers points such as culture and education , astronomical observation , the environment and biodiversity, as well as intelligent lighting and light pollution . The establishment of a core area and a comprehensive buffer zone is also recommended. In the latter, the surrounding settlements in particular should also be included. The concept paper also contains extensive specific information on technical measures.

With regard to astronomy sites , UNESCO by no means restricts itself to visual astronomy, radio telescopes also require comparable protection against electrosmog ( protection zones for radio equipment , which are usually subject to broadcasting law).

IUCN classification of light protection areas

Since 2009 there has also been the IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group  (DSAG) as a working group of the World Commission on Protected Areas  (WCPA) of the IUCN, which is specifically responsible for the development of criteria and the designation of protected areas. By 2013 the IUCN-DSAG had registered 46  dark sky parks and reserves and 5  dark sky communities ("light protection communities"). They are located in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Great Britain, Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The total area (excluding the municipalities) is around 84,000 km², which corresponds to the area of ​​all of Austria, or Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The system developed by the IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group includes the following categories ( DSAG classes , with typical examples):

1 Starlight Reserve ('Starlight Reserve'): Astronomical observation site and surroundings - for example the La Palma Starlight Reserve (Spain, 18,600 ha, for the European Northern Observatory )
2 Dark Sky Park ('Dark Sky Park'): Protected natural space
2a Park , nature reserve , habitat , natural area or other ecological protection - the NamibRand International Dark Sky Reserve (Namibia, 172,000 ha)
2b Uninhabited place that is protected for the purpose of traditional or sacred practices in relation to the starry sky - the Beskydy Dark Sky Park (Czech Republic / Slovakia, 31,000 ha, in the Beskydy as a particularly primeval cultural landscape)
2c Rural or Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty - Lake Hudson Recreation Area Dark Sky Preserve (US, 890 ha)
3 Dark Sky Heritage Site : protected cultural heritage of physical human creativity - the Chaco Culture International Dark Sky Park (USA, 13,750 ha, Chaco Canyon culture , UNESCO World Heritage)
4 Dark Sky Outreach Site ('public light-protected place')
4a Urban or suburban (urban space) - Cattle Point Urban Star Park ( City of Victoria , Canada, 7 ha)
4b Rural ( rural area ) - Bluewater Outdoor Education Center Dark Sky Preserve (Canada, 130 ha)
5 Dark Sky Reserve : Area with a mixture of citizen participation and legislation on landscape planning and nature conservation - Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park (Great Britain, 80,000 ha, for the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory )
6 Dark Sky Community : a whole place or whole city - Flagstaff (USA), the Channel Island Sark (Great Britain)

This system is integrated into the system of the IUCN categories for nature conservation management.

IDA categories

Since 2001, the International Dark Sky Association  (IDA) in Tucson, Arizona has awarded the International Dark Sky Community  (IDSC) rating for light protection areas. The  light protection areas operate under the International Dark Sky Park  (IDSP) and International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), the rating has been awarded since 2006 and 2008 in the form of a certification in gold , silver and bronze . Newer categories are International Dark Sky Sanctuary  (IDSS) and Urban Night Sky Place . In addition, the IDA awards various measures for light protection under Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction , but these do not result in light protection areas in the true sense.

So far (as of 2018) the IDA has awarded around 100 locations.



There are the following light protection areas in Germany:

In Germany there are the following plans for protected areas:


The following projects exist in Austria:


In Switzerland there is the following planning for a protected area:


Chile - as the second country in the world after Spain - passed a law on light protection in 1999 in order to preserve the northern zones as the location for the observatories ( Cerro Tololo - CTIO-NOAO , Las Campanas - LCO , Pachón - Gemini / SOAR , ESO in La Silla , Paranal , in future Pachón - LSST , Las Campanas - GMT , Cerro Armazones - E-ELT ). This Norma Lumínica regulates a light protection zone for the regions Antofagasta , Atacama and Coquimbo . The Oficina de Protección de la Calidad del Cielo del Norte de Chile  (OPCC) created for this purpose is responsible .


Canada has the most comprehensive sun protection program in the world. Today (2013) 40% of all protected areas are located here, with around 80% of the total area designated worldwide. The areas are mainly designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Société royale d'astronomie du Canada, RASC / SRAC).

Web links

  1. ^ IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group: World List of Dark Sky Protected Areas. (PDF) Updated 29th August 2013 (PDF; 45 kB,

More special:

  • Clear sky chart . - private website with online database on North America

Individual evidence

  1. Elk Island National Park of Canada Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve: Leads you into the Dark! - What is scotobiology? Parks Canada.
  2. International Dark-Sky Parks ( memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed online on October 24, 2013.
  3. Christian Reinboth: Who actually decides on the allocation of “star parks”? ., November 15, 2010.
  4. International Dark-Sky Communities ( Memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed online on October 24, 2013.
  5. International Astronomical Union: Division B Commission 50 Protection of Existing & Potential Observatory Sites ( Memento of November 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ); Controlling light pollution .
  6. ^ The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies ( Memento October 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed online October 24, 2013
  7. ^ Light-Pollution Abatement Committee ,, accessed online October 24, 2013.
  8. ^ RASC Programs .
  9. a b Dark-Sky Site Designations . - Overview map of all Canadian light protection areas
  10. Elk Island National Park of Canada Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve: Leads you into the Dark! - What are Dark Sky Preserves? Parks Canada
  11. Fight for the beauty of the night
  12. Zselici Csillagoségbolt Park (hu)
  13. ^ A b Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
  14. (en / cz / pl)
  15. Dark Skies Awareness: seeing in the dark (
  16. Starlight Reserves . Website of the StarLight Universe - International Initiative in Defense of the Quality of the Night Sky as Mankind's Scientific, Cultural and Environmental Heritage,
  17. ^ Website of the Fundación Starlight ( Memento of August 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  18. a b ICOMOS, IAU; Clive Ruggles, Michel Cotte ( arr .): Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the context of the World Heritage Convention: A Thematic Study . June 30, 2010 ( Reader online ,; web links: ( memento of July 23, 2012 in the Internet Archive ); ( memento of November 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ));
    The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the study on astronomy and world heritage at its 34th meeting .
  19. Wide-angle light meter like the Canadian company Unihedron;
  20. International Dark-Sky Reserves ( Memento of April 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed online on October 24, 2013.
  21. UNESCO-WHC, UNESCO - IAU, CIE, OTPC-IAC (ed.): Starlight Reserve. Concept - Dimensions - Categories - Criteria. Recommendations . March 2009, 4th Categories and Section Zonation Criteria , p. 12 ff. resp. 19th ff . ( [PDF]).
  22. Starlight Reserve . Recommendations. Section Directions for the Action Plan Objectives , p. 16 ff .
  23. Starlight Reserve . Recommendations. Sections Zonation Criteria and General recommendations on outdoor lighting , p. 19th ff. resp. 24 ff .
  24. ^ David Tenenbaum: Blinded by the light. Feeling light-headed. April 20, 2000, at
    Literature on Space-borne Radio Interference . ( Memento of November 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies (CRAF), European Science Foundation (ESF),
  25. on the protected areas of Eastern Central Europe see also Jan Kondziolka, Czech astronomical society: Beskydy dark-sky park . (PDF) Map p. 2 (PDF; 1.9 MB,
  26. David Welch (arrangement), DSAG (ed.): Dark Sky Places Class System . (PDF) March 2013 (PDF; 26 kB,, English). Original text: “ 1 Starlight Reserve: astronomy observatory site and surrounding area; 2 Dark Sky Park: protected natural area; 2a Park, reserve, habitat, natural area or other ecological protection; 2b Unpopulated area set aside for traditional or sacred practices related to the sky; 2c Rural area, area of ​​outstanding landscape beauty; 3 Dark Sky Heritage Site: protected heritage physical works of mankind; 4 Dark Sky Outreach Site; 4a Urban or suburban site; 4b rural site; 5 Dark Sky Reserve: mix of cooperating community, rural and natural area jurisdictions; 6 Dark Sky Community: an entire village, town or city.
  27. Chráněná krajinná oblast Beskydy (cz / en / pl); Beskydy (Beskydy Mountains) . (de); Beskydy Protected Landscape Area , engl. Wikipedia; see also the Kysuce Protected Landscape Area
  28. Katrin Bischoff: Star Park - Europe's darkroom ., November 19, 2011, accessed online on October 24, 2013
  29. Westhavelland Nature Park wants to apply as a "Star Park" . ( Memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), March 27, 2012, accessed online on October 5, 2013
  30. , accessed on April 4, 2019
  31. , accessed on April 4, 2019
  32. ↑ Star Park Rhön officially recognized (accessed January 8, 2017)
  33. Jörn Perske: The fight against light, leading article in the Südthüringer Zeitung from August 27, 2018
  34. , accessed on April 4, 2019
  35. , accessed on April 4, 2019
  36. ↑ Star parks in Germany and Europe . light
  37. ↑ Star Park . ( Memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on October 24, 2013
  38. Dirk Lorenzen : A star park in the Harz? ., March 27, 2012, accessed online on October 24, 2013
  39. "Dark Germany"? Naturpark would be proud of it on, accessed on April 4, 2019
  40. Shining examples ( Memento of October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ): In Austria… ,
  41. Großmugl an der Milchstraße ,; Starlight oasis Großmugl . ( Memento from October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ); The UNESCO World Heritage Committee confirmed the study on astronomy and world heritage at its 34th meeting ,
  42. Light protection area - when night falls over the Dürrenstein . ( Memento from October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  43. Welcome to the future Star Park - Attersee-Traunsee Nature Park. (
  44. ^ First Swiss Dark Sky Park - "From an environmental point of view, it makes sense to create dark zones". In: . August 12, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019 .
  45. Norma de Emisión para la Regulación de la Contaminación Lumínica Decreto Supremo Nº 686 del 7 de diciembre de 1998 del Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Reconstrucción (PDF,
  46. La Oficina de Protección de la Calidad del Cielo del Norte de Chile - OPCC (