Whether it’s urbanization, satellites in space or the increased use of greenhouses lit up by LEDs, there are many causes of light pollution that are spoiling the beauty of our night skies. That’s a crying shame, which is why a nonprofit known as the International Dark-Sky Association is working to safeguard night skies for future generations to enjoy.
Recently, the nonprofit granted its first designation that covers an entire country, the small Pacific island nation of Niue. Niue is home to around 1,600 inhabitants and is one of the world’s smallest independent nations. Its people enjoy a long history of being guided by star navigation and lunar cycles, with elders passing down their knowledge from generation to generation. They hope to continue this for some time to come, aided by the formal approval of the nation as an International Dark Sky Place.
By being an official International Dark Sky Place, Niue is now committing itself to adopt quality outdoor lighting ordinances and undertaking efforts to protecting its night sky from light pollution. Niue joins more than 130 certified Dark Sky Places around the globe, though it is the first to feature as an entire nation. By limiting light pollution, the organization hopes to limit the disruption to wildlife, save energy and preserve a clear view of the universe.
This final point is one of big significance in astronomy circles, with SpaceX’s burgeoning constellation of Starlink satellites, and others like it, threatening the work of scientists around the globe. When it comes to Niue, the government hopes this formal accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary and International Dark Sky Community will create Astro-tourism opportunities and let visitors and locals enjoy the night sky for years to come.