Passion of the People – 1.4.4

  The Perception of Stars in a Dark Landscape

Darkness as a phenomenon is losing its significance with the development of civilization and advanced technology. Since the beginning of the earth, its rotation has always created cyclical darkness, which was one of the factors by which all living beings evolved and developed their instincts and behaviour. The theme was intended for rest, and with the development of civilization, with a view to the sky, it was also intended for the philosophy of understanding one’s place in the universe. The perception of stars in the night landscape was thus not something special, but a natural part of the 24-hour day. Nowadays, however, stargazing in a dark landscape requires a bit more effort. 

Nowadays, if we want to observe stars in a dark landscape, we have to work a little harder.

The current reality is that we live in a time when the sky is significantly polluted with artificial light, which results in the stars being less accessible to our eyes than decades ago. Any source of light means a reduction in the visibility of the starry sky. It is precisely for this reason that our ancestors, say 150 years ago, had a much better view of the stars than is possible today in most regions on Earth.

Therefore, for a person to be able to return to his roots, i.e. to the darkness that has been a self-evident phenomenon for him for thousands of years, currently requires a lot of logistics and sometimes also costs. The possibility of stargazing is becoming increasingly rare due to light pollution, because due to the pollution of the atmosphere, the starry sky cannot be seen in all its dimensions. Due to the increasing desire of modern advanced civilization, this issue has started to be solved by the establishment of dark sky parks all over the world. Dark Sky Parks offer an ancient view of the sky and create natural night darkness without any distractions, providing the best conditions for stargazing.

The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is the association that monitors and certifies suitable destinations from this group. Among their other goals, which are the protection of the environment and the promotion of the natural night environment, is also the promotion of eco and astro tourism. There are currently more than 80 certified Dark Sky Park landscapes around the world, which means that there are more and more destinations where it is possible to observe the stars in all their glory in the natural darkness of the night.


Fairyland Canyon – Image by Adam DereweckiPixabay
Beautiful sky – Image by James WheelerPixabay
Milky Way – Image by AnnBoulaisPixabay

Further Resources

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Videos

How to focus on stars and Milky Way

Alaska’s epic Northern Light

 An In-Depth Exploration of Our Solar System

The Unbearable Beauty of the Night Sky.

Nox Atacama

Italia maglia nera per l’inquinamento luminoso – MEDIAINAF TV

Fabio Falchi a Geo&Geo parla di inquinamento luminoso – AstrofiliMantovani


Online Resources

The cosmic landscape

Night Walking

Reconnecting with Darkness

Rediscovering the landscapes of the starry sky

A new landscape of the invisible

Cielo Buio

Un mondo dove non si vedono più le stelle – Focus

Mappe dello stato del cielo in Italia – Light Pollution Italy

I parchi del buio, dove andare a vedere le stelle – Avvenire

Inquinamento luminoso: cosa possiamo fare per combatterlo e ritornare ad ammirare le stelle! – Hello Green

Capire il Cielo Notturno: La Scala di Bortle – Star Walk

Fra Texas e Messico il più grande “parco del buio” – MEDIA INAF


Further Readings

Sample lighting management plan for international dark sky parks/reserves/sanctuaries

Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting

Sky brightness on La Palma

International Dark Sky Park Program Guidelines

Astro 2020 Science White Paper: Fundamental Cosmology in the Dark Ages with 21-cm Line Fluctuations


Teaching Materials

Interactive map shows the positions of locations designated as part of the International Dark Sky Places Program

Everything You Need to Know to Take Up Stargazing – A beginner’s guide to stargazing

Top tips for stargazing

Observing “Shooting Stars” by Andrew Fraknoi

 The lives of Stars, Andrew Fraknoi


For Kids

A Sky Full of Stars

The planet song – 8 Planets of the Solar system Song for Kids

Solar System – online games (3D puzzle)

E – book for children: A sky full of stars; Turkish and Muslim Astronomers in History

The Solar System Song for Kids

Cos’è l’inquinamento luminoso? | Ambiente – RSI Edu