Park Authority

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday
703-324-8700 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
Jai Cole
Executive Director

Department Resources

Dark Skies

Dark Skies Light to Protect the Night

Dark skies are the historic and natural state of nature. Over time humans have increased the amount of light shining into the sky all night long. This disruption of excessive light has robbed us of our stars and endangered the nature around us. We can have dark skies again if we can learn to control light pollution with responsible outdoor lighting practices.

Light Pollution Components

Skyglow is the brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas.


Glare is excessive brightening that causes visual discomfort.


Light trespass is light falling where it is not intended or needed.

light trespass

Why is Dark Sky Conservation Important?

light pollution across the world; bright light shining on a wolf, a turtle, a frog, and some birds

Economic Benefits

Proper night sky friendly lighting lowers CO2 emission and lowers energy costs. Dark sky practices prevent the wasted energy of light shining where it is not needed or wanted.

Human Health and Sleep Benefits

Artificial light at night has multiple negative human health impacts: blue light at night disrupts a human’s circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion.

Safety Benefits

Bright light does not increase safety! Rather, the placement, color and shielding of light needs to be done wisely to ensure safe perception of space.

Environmental Benefits

Dark skies are vital for keeping plants and animals safe in their natural environment. Nocturnal animals are adapted to the darkness and lose their way in artificial light. Nocturnal pollinators avoid lights and those that don’t get eaten. Plants use light as a calendar so artificial light at night causes plants to leaf when they should flower and reduces crop production. Some varieties of strawberry need the dark to produce fruit.


Dark Sky Friendly Outdoor Lighting Principles

a list of dark sky friendly outdoor lighting principles

Click image to download accessible PDF.


a depiction of dark sky friendly outdoor lighting with emphasis on shielding, color temperature, intensity, and timing

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