Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society

Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, 3 to 7 October 2021

Venue: Teatro Circo de Marte

A webcast will be available to listen and send questions via chat.

Please check this website regularly for updated information.

Application deadlines:
15 July 2021 - Deadline to propose an abstract and to apply for financial support to travel

15 August 2021 - Registration deadline for those attending in person at La Palma
15 September 2021 -  Registration deadline for those attending online


Since millennia the silent and ordered beauty of the night sky has inspired humankind in all its intellectual and emotional expressions: poetry, philosophy, religion and science. The knowledge that we acquire from the study of celestial phenomena not only provides a deeper understanding of our place in the Universe, but also leads to technological progress. It is therefore in the interest of many sectors of society to enable astronomy and cosmology to benefit from access to the sky, free of anthropogenic interference. Moreover, beyond science and technology, the pristine spectacle of the starry night sky has been inspirational to humankind since prehistoric times and this world cultural heritage should be zealously protected.

As requested by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and Spain are organising a Conference on "Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society". As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Conference could not take place in 2020 and an online Workshop was held from 5 to 9 October 2020 to discuss initial findings and draft recommendations. Following the online workshop and the comments received, the working groups of the Scientific Organising Committee (SOC) produced a  report in January 2021. Recommendations from this report were presented to the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in April 2021. This report represents the most up-to-date and authoritative analysis of the impact on astronomy by three classes of interference: artificial light at night (ALAN), the large number of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite trails, and radio-wavelength emission. The involvement of COPUOS is particularly important since it is the natural international forum where these matters should be brought to the attention of the space community.

Presentations, videos and the report of the online workshop of October 2020 are available via this webpage.


The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Spain, jointly with the International Astronomical Union (IAU), are announcing a Conference hosted by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) at Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain from Sunday 3 October to Thursday 7 October 2021. 

The Conference will focus on the implementation of recommendations, in particular identifying both the technical and political actions needed for their effective realization, as well as which stakeholders and partners would need to collaborate to implement a satisfactory solution for the preservation of a dark and quiet skies. The programme of the Conference includes invited talks as well as contributed papers selected through a call for abstracts.


The high-level programme is available through this link.

Registration and Call for Abstracts

Interested parties are requested to apply here.

The deadline to propose an abstract and to apply for funding is  15 July 2021.

Working Language

The working language of the Conference will be English.


The Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Government of Spain are organising the Conference with the International Astronomical Union (IAU). It is supported by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. 

Sponsorship of the Conference is still open to other interested entities. Interested parties may contact  unoosa-events@un.org.

Expected Participants

The Conference addresses private industry involved in technology development that potentially emits light or radio signals interfering with astronomy, astronomers, and urban planners. The Office of Outer Space Affairs strives to support gender mainstreaming in its programmes and is also committed to ensure a balanced representation from different perspectives.  Applications from female applicants are particularly encouraged.

Financial Support

Within the limited financial resources available, a limited number of selected participants will be offered financial support to attend the Conference. This financial support will defray the cost of travel (a round trip air-ticket - most economic fare - between the airport of international departure in their home country and La Palma) and/or the room and board expenses for the duration of the Conference.

Financial support from the United Nations will only be considered for individuals selected as speaker and who are presently living in a developing country. For the list of developing countries, please refer to the annex of the  World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020 report.

Participants will be selected on a competitive basis, depending on their place of origin and relevant professional or educational background. Successful applicants will be notified of the outcome within two weeks after the deadline to apply for financial support.

Life and Health Insurance

Health insurance cover is necessary for each of the selected participants attending physically in La Palma and is the responsibility of the candidate or his/her institution or government. UNOOSA will neither assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for expenses related to medical treatment or accidental events.

Contact Information

For additional information, please contact: unoosa-events@un.org

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