Dark Skies Toolkit

Enrichment & Conservation

Many Gateway & Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) communities value the night sky as an important component of their cultural heritage and rural character. They understand the public health benefits of regulating their lights during the nighttime hours. Additionally, as light pollution encroaches on the starry views in the world’s metropolitan areas, GNAR communities see economic opportunity in urbanites’ rising interest in astro-tourism. GNAR communities throughout the western United States have adopted exterior lighting ordinances, carried out exterior lighting assessments of publicly-owned fixtures, partnered with astronomical groups and universities to study their light pollution contributions, and have worked with the DarkSky International (formerly International Dark-Sky Association) to receive special recognition for their efforts. The Dark Skies Toolkit provides a range of informational and educational resources designed for individuals, communities, and planners to promote, protect, and enjoy natural night skies.


Dive Into The Night
dive into the night with a background of night mountain scene

New to the topic of dark skies? The Dive into the Night Toolkit includes a selection of our favorite dark-sky introductory resources that lay a foundation for dark sky conservation best practices, benefits, and programs.

Dark Sky Certifications
dark sky certifications with a background of boulder structures at night

The Dark Sky Certifications Toolkit includes tools and resources to aid communities, parks, and protected land areas in achieving an International Dark Sky Place Certification. 

Local Officials
planners and decision makers with a background of mountains in the night with a starry sky

The Planners & Decision Makers Toolkit offers a suite of resources to aid and educate planners and decision makers to better understand the implications of dark sky conservation and to plan for and implement effective policies.

Good Neighbor
good neighbor with a background of a street with blurred lights

The Good Neighbor Toolkit includes resources for better understanding what it means to be a good neighbor, how to take action around your own home and neighborhood, and an overview of good neighbor lighting policies and best practices.

Dark Skies & Culture

dark sky certifications with a background of ancient ruins at night

The Dark Skies & Culture Toolkit includes resources to learn more about archeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy. and other cultural astronomy concepts and traditions.

Lighting Design

dark sky certifications with a blue background

The Lighting Design Toolkit includes resources for understanding outdoor lighting basics, responsible lighting principles, and identifying dark-sky-friendly lighting. Ideas and examples of how to creatively incorporate dark-sky themes into outdoor designs are also included.




Citizen Scientist
citizen scientist with a milky way galaxy background

The Citizen Scientist Toolkit includes resources to empower members of the public to collect, analyze, and share natural nighttime data.


astrotourism with a background of a long exposure of the night sky

The Astrotourism & Recreation Toolkit includes resources regarding astronomy and dark-sky related tourism and recreation, including potential benefits and suggestions as to how and where to experience exceptional night skies.


Night Skies Network
IORT Night Skies page with background of blue mountains

Go to the Night Skies webpage on the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism's page to connect with the dark sky communities of the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative, the Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperative, and Western Night Skies Council.