IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Dark Sky Park

16th January, 2024 Environment

Dark Sky Park

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  • The Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Maharashtra has been marked as India's first Dark Sky Park and the fifth such park in Asia for protecting the night sky and preventing light pollution, making the facility ideal for astronomy enthusiasts.

Note: The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), a high-altitude astronomy station located in Hanle, and operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, is India's first dark-sky preserve.

Situated in the Western Himalayas at an elevation of 4,500 meters (14,764 ft), the IAO is one of the world's highest located sites for optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes.

Need and Significance

  • The escalating global threat of light pollution poses a substantial risk to this invaluable resource.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) emphasises on the recognition of the intrinsic value of the night sky as a natural, cultural, and historical resource.
  • The IUCN also highlights the need to preserve natural darkness for the sake of nature conservation, ecological integrity in protected areas, and the well-being of communities in healthy cities.
  • Dark Sky Place certification focuses on lighting policy, dark sky-friendly retrofits, outreach and education, and monitoring the night sky.

Dark Sky Park

  • A Dark Sky Park is a designated area characterized by low light pollution levels, making it an ideal location for stargazing and astronomical observation.
  • These parks are recognized for their efforts to preserve natural darkness and promote public awareness about the importance of dark skies.
  • The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization that works to protect the night skies for present and future generations by advocating for responsible outdoor lighting and promoting dark sky places.

Key Features:

Low Light Pollution:

  • Dark Sky Parks are known for their minimal light pollution levels. Artificial lights, including streetlights and outdoor fixtures, are carefully managed to reduce the impact on the natural darkness of the night sky.

Stargazing Opportunities:

  • The primary purpose of Dark Sky Parks is to provide optimal conditions for stargazing and astronomical observation. Visitors can experience the beauty of celestial bodies such as stars, planets, and galaxies without interference from artificial light.

Conservation of Natural Darkness:

  • These parks often encompass natural areas with limited development, helping to conserve the intrinsic value of natural darkness. This has ecological benefits for nocturnal wildlife and contributes to the overall health of ecosystems.

Educational Programs:

  • Dark Sky Parks typically engage in educational initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of preserving dark skies. This may include public programs, events, and educational outreach to schools and communities.

Community Involvement:

  • Local communities play a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of Dark Sky Parks. Collaboration between community members, local authorities, and organizations is essential to ensure the success of dark sky initiatives.

Lighting Guidelines:

  • Parks follow lighting guidelines set by the International Dark-Sky Association. These guidelines focus on using energy-efficient lighting fixtures, directing light where it is needed, and minimizing upward light spill.

International Dark-Sky Association (IDA):

IDA Designations:

  • The IDA recognizes different types of dark sky places, including International Dark Sky Reserves, International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, and Dark Sky Communities, in addition to Dark Sky Parks.

Certification Process:

  • Places seeking IDA certification undergo a rigorous evaluation process, including an assessment of their lighting practices, commitment to dark sky preservation, and public outreach efforts.

Examples of Dark Sky Parks:

  • Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, USA:
    • Designated as a Dark Sky Park in 2014, this area adjacent to the Grand Canyon offers stunning night skies, and stargazing programs are organized for visitors.
  • NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia:
    • Recognized as Africa's first International Dark Sky Reserve, the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia provides breathtaking views of the Milky Way and other celestial wonders.
  • Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales:
    • This Dark Sky Reserve in Wales is committed to minimizing light pollution and offers various stargazing events for both residents and visitors.

Dark Sky Parks contribute to the conservation of natural darkness, the protection of nocturnal environments, and the promotion of astronomy and scientific education. They serve as crucial sanctuaries for those seeking a pristine and immersive stargazing experience.

Pench Tiger Reserve:


  • Pench Tiger Reserve is located in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, India.
  • Geographical Coordinates: Approximately 21.7050° N latitude and 79.2428° E longitude.


  • Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1977, it attained the status of a tiger reserve in 1992.

Flora and Fauna:

  • Rich biodiversity with a mix of southern tropical deciduous forests.
  • Dominant tree species include teak, mahua, bamboo, and more.
  • Notable fauna includes Bengal tigers, leopards, wild dogs, Indian gaur, and diverse bird species.

Rivers and Landscape:

  • Pench River flows through the reserve, providing water and scenic beauty.
  • Varied terrain includes hills, valleys, and meadows.

Tourism and Conservation:

  • Safari tours for wildlife enthusiasts, offering jeep, elephant, and boat safaris.
  • Focus on Bengal tiger conservation and community-based initiatives.


  • Part of the larger Pench Biosphere Reserve, extending across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Notable Attractions:

  • Known as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book."
  • Pench Dam adds to the landscape and serves as a birdwatching spot.


  • A crucial area for Bengal tiger conservation.
  • Promotes sustainable tourism and community engagement.



Which of the following characteristics is/are typically associated with Dark Sky Parks?

1.       High levels of artificial light to enhance visibility during nighttime activities.

2.       Promotion of energy-efficient lighting fixtures.

3.       Conservation of natural darkness for ecological and astronomical benefits.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

A) 1 only

B) 2 and 3 only

C) 1 and 2 only

D) 3 only

The correct answer is:

B) 2 and 3 only


High levels of artificial light to enhance visibility during nighttime activities.

  • This statement is incorrect. Dark Sky Parks are characterized by low levels of artificial light to minimize light pollution and enhance the visibility of celestial objects during nighttime activities. The statement is the opposite of the typical characteristics of Dark Sky Parks.

Promotion of energy-efficient lighting fixtures.

  • This statement is correct. Dark Sky Parks often promote the use of energy-efficient lighting fixtures to minimize light pollution and contribute to the conservation of natural darkness.

Conservation of natural darkness for ecological and astronomical benefits.

  • This statement is correct. Dark Sky Parks focus on conserving natural darkness, not only for astronomical observations but also for ecological benefits such as supporting the natural behavior of nocturnal wildlife and promoting human health.

Therefore, the correct answer is B) 2 and 3 only.


Q. Arrange the following events related to Pench Tiger Reserve in chronological order:

1.       Declaration as a tiger reserve.

2.       Recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3.       Designation as a wildlife sanctuary.

4.       Establishment of the Pench Biosphere Reserve.

Select the correct chronological sequence using the code given below:

A) 3, 1, 2, 4

B) 4, 3, 1, 2

C) 3, 4, 1, 2

D) 1, 3, 2, 4

The correct chronological sequence is:

B) 4, 3, 1, 2


Establishment of the Pench Biosphere Reserve:

  • The Pench Biosphere Reserve, encompassing the Pench Tiger Reserve, was established to conserve the biodiversity of the region.

Designation as a wildlife sanctuary:

  • Pench Tiger Reserve was initially declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1977, marking a step toward wildlife conservation in the region.

Declaration as a tiger reserve:

  • Pench Tiger Reserve received the status of a tiger reserve in 1992, emphasizing the importance of protecting the Bengal tiger population in the area.

Recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, Pench Tiger Reserve itself is not listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the overall conservation efforts in the region, including Pench Biosphere Reserve, contribute to biodiversity conservation.