How to Become a Designated Dark-Sky Site

How to Become a Designated Dark-Sky Site

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Dark-Sky Site program recognizes public and private spaces that are contributing to the reduction of light pollution, educating the public about dark skies, and liaising with municipalities to improve lighting legislation. If you are interested in actively contributing to the preservation of dark skies in Canada, or if you already do so, consider becoming a designated Dark-Sky Site!

The three designations of the Dark-Sky Site program - Dark-Sky Preserves, Nocturnal Preserves, and Urban Star Parks - recognize the benefits of pristine dark skies for observing the night sky, as well as the benefits of sites that are easily accessible or within urban areas and where public outreach plays a large role.

The key practices that each designated Dark-Sky Site must implement are:

  • Demonstrate lighting practices that comply with the Canadian Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting (CGOL)
  • Deliver public outreach programs and events to educate visitors about the nocturnal environment and night sky
  • Engage neighbouring municipalities and landowners in discussions about reducing light pollution in the community


How To Apply

If you are interested in becoming a designated Dark-Sky Site or have questions about the program, please click the button below to connect with the Light Pollution Abatement Committee and Dark Sky Information, who can guide you through the process.

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In order to receive a Dark-Sky Site designation, a detailed application outlining how your site fulfills the requirements of the program must be submitted. The Light Pollution Abatement Committee will review your application and contact you with any comments or requests for additional information. Upon approval of your application, you will receive a notification letter and certificate from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Your application must include:

  • Which designation you are applying for
  • Location and description of the site
  • Site quality assessment
  • Zenith sky quality measurements
  • Proof of compliance to the Canadian Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting (CGOL)
  • Public outreach plan
  • Municipal outreach plan
  • Letters of support

Please see the Application Requirements document for details about the application and site requirements.



Application Requirements

A detailed document outlining site requirements, application components, and requirements for maintaining your Dark-Sky Site designation.


Canadian Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting

Guidelines for low-impact lighting, produced by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. This document provides design solutions that will help minimize and control lighting. The guidelines do not prohibit light, but instead stipulate that the use of light must be limited and justified on a case-by-case basis. Essentially, Sites should have no artificial lighting wherever possible, but where this is unfeasible, illuminated areas should have minimal impact on the ecology of the area and visibility of the night sky.


Canadian Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting- Summary Table

A table that summarizes the Canadian Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting across different levels of knowledge and expertise.


Interested in becoming a designated Dark-Sky Site? Click the button below to contact us and start the process!

Let's get started!

Last modified: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 4:15pm