Southern Europe Just Got Its First International Dark Sky Park

A new International Dark Sky Community has been named.

international dark sky europe croatia
Photo by xbrchx/Shutterstock
Photo by xbrchx/Shutterstock

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has certified a new International Dark Sky Community (IDSC), a designation given to cities or regions that make adjustments to protect the night sky for everyone to enjoy. 

It has given the honor to Jelsa in Croatia, located on the island of Hvar. The municipality includes 12 settlements, according to the IDA. It becomes the first IDSC in Croatia and the first in all of Southern Europe. Its commitment to "protecting dark skies from light pollution" makes Jelsa the 37th Dark Sky Community in the world, including 24 in the US.

To acquire the title, Jelsa changed 82% of its unshielded public lighting to fully shielded, 3000K lighting, which helps prevent rampant light pollution from obstructing views of the night sky. "The Municipality of Jelsa is setting a high standard for other communities in this country and region of the world to follow," Ashley Wilson, IDA Director of Conservation, said. "We are pleased to recognize Jelsa as a distinguished leader in demonstrating that proper use of lighting can benefit both human wellbeing and the nocturnal environment within and outside our communities."

Additionally, the IDA notes that the Croatian Astronomical Union has been organizing events to raise awareness of and engagement with the dark-sky movement. Those activities include telescope observation events, activities for kids, and talks about astronomy and light pollution. Those are all part of the mission to hit the IDA requirements to show "exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies."

"I’m very happy that Jelsa succeeded in getting the International Dark Sky Community designation and hope that this gets us a step further on the road of making Jelsa an astro-touristic destination and branding Jelsa as a dark sky friendly tourist destination," Marija Marjan, director of the Jelsa Tourist Board, said.

The designation not only means that the community is protecting the ecosystem, it means that it is and will stay a wonderful place to connect to the sky, heritage, and the cosmos.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.