Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society

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

Due to the circumstances at La Palma, the Conference will be held exclusively online

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
24 September 2021 23:59 CEST - Registration deadline for those attending online
Registrations are closed


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.


Day 1 - Sunday, 3 October 2021 (UTC+1)
ALAN Technical Session
 09:00  Welcome and introductions - Spain  Rafael Rebolo, Director, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain  (introduced by Casiana Muñoz-Tuñón)
    Welcome and introductions - International Astronomical Union  Constance Walker, IAU / NOIRLab  (introduced by Piero Benvenuti)
    Welcome and introductions - United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs   Niklas Hedman, UNOOSA  (introduced by Nathalie Ricard)
 09:45  Session 1: Introduction to the Growing Threat of ALAN  
    Chair: Richard Green    
    Overview of ALAN  Ruskin Hartley  International Dark-Sky Association, USA 
    Global Trends on ALAN  Alejandro Sánchez Miguel  Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
    Threat to the Natural World  Annette Krop-Benesch  Light Pollution Initiative Nachhaltig Beleuchten, Germany
 10:30  Coffee Break  
 11:00  Session 2: Astronomical Site Protection  
   Chair: Antonia Varela    
    D&QS Optical Astronomy  Richard Green  University of Arizona, USA
    Basis in OTPC Experience  Casiana Muñoz-Tuñón  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain
    Site Protection in Morocco  Zouhair Benkhaldoun  Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
    Site Protection in China  Gongbo Zhao  National Astronomical Observatory of China, China
 12:00  Session 3: BioEnvironment and Human Health  
   Chair: Annette Krop-Benesch    
    D&QS BioEnvironment  James Lowenthal  Smith College, USA
    Impact on Circadian Rhythms  Marian Rol  University of Murcia, Spain
    Impacts on Human Health  Mario Motta  American Medical Association, USA
 13:00  Lunch Break
 14:30  Session 4: Dark Sky Oases  
   Chair: Zouhair Benkhaldoun    
    Recommendations for Dark Sky Oases  John Hearnshaw  University of Canterbury, New Zealand
    Sustainable Development and Astrotourism  Antonia Varela Pérez  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain
    German Dark Sky Places as best practice for protecting the night  Andreas Hänel  Dark Sky Germany, Germany
   Environmentally Responsible Lighting Design  Karolina Zielinska-Dabkowska  Gdansk University of Technology, Poland
   Poster: An overview of the light pollution of the night  Andrea Laura Sosa Oyarzabal  Centro Universitario Regional del Este (CURE)
   Poster: Effects of Artificial Light at Night on Animal  Saeed Jafari  University of Kurdistan, Iran
 16:00  Session 5: Measuring and Modeling ALAN  
   Chair: James Lowenthal    
   Measurement for Regional Monitoring  Salvador Ribas  Parc Astronomic Montsec, Spain
   Modeling to Mitigate the Impact of ALAN  Martin Aubé  Cegep de Sherbrooke, Canada
   Poster: Light Pollution Observations in Indonesia  Gunawan Admiranto  Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, Indonesia
   Poster: An Astronomical Observatory  Mayssa El Yazidi  Centre for Studies and Activities for Space "G. Colombo"- CISAS, Italy
   Poster: Remotely sensing changes in lighting  Alexandre Simoneau  Université de Sherbrooke, Canada
 17:00  Adjourn - End of day 1  
     Day 2 - Monday, 4 October 2021 (UTC+1)
 ALAN Technical, Policy & Implementation session
 09:00  Session 6: Technical Framework and Basis  
   Chair: Andreas Hänel    
    Introduce UN Model Technical Framework draft  WG Technical Contributors: Leads, Costis and Richard  
    Anthropogenic Light at Night: CIE's Scientific Support as a Basis for Regulations  Jennifer Veitch  International Commission on Illumination, Canada
    Towards Standardized ALAN Measurement Methods & Criteria as a Policy Tool  Constantinos Bouroussis  National Technical University of Athens, Lighting Laboratory, International Commission on Illumination, Greece
    Dynamic Controls and Lighting Zones  Dionyz Gasparovsky  Technical University of Bratislava, International Commission on Illumination, Slovakia
 10:30  Coffee Break
 11:00  Session 7: ALAN Policy and Implementation  
   Chair: Richard Green    
    Introduce UN ALAN policy draft  WG Policy Contributors: Leads, Fabio, Pedro and Ruskin  
    Policy and Legal Options for Implementation 1  Aaron Lien  University of Arizona, USA
    Policy and Legal Options for Implementation 2  Martin Morgan-Taylor  DeMontfort Law School, UK
    Laws of Dark Skies and Quiet Skies  Phil Cameron  University of Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne, France
 13:00  Lunch Break
 14:30  Session 8: Examples of National / Regional Implementation  
   Chair: Gong-Bo Zhao    
    The Chilean Norma Luminica  Pedro Sanhueza  OPCC, Office for the Protection for the Night Sky of Northern Chile
    Policies in Spain: Why should artificial light at night be considered a classical pollutant?   Salvador Bará  Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    Implementation and Education in Portugal  Raul Cerveira Lima  School of Health Polytechn. of Porto + Inst Astroph & Space Sci, Portugal
    Regional Frameworks in Italy  Fabio Falchi  Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    Southwestern US and Hawaii   Ruskin Hartley  International Dark-Sky Association, USA
    Regulations in Germany and France   Andreas Hänel  Dark Sky Germany
 16:00  Session 9: Round Table - Key Input from the Workshop Pending Issues, Next Steps  
   Chair: WG Co-chairs    
 17:00  Adjourn - End of day 2
         Day 3 - Tuesday, 5 October 2021 (UTC+1)
    Satellite Constellation
 09:00  Welcome    
 09:05  Introduction  Richard Green  University of Arizona, USA
 09:10  Session 10: Observations
   Chair: Richard Green    
    Conclusions from the SATCON2 Observations Working Group: Coordination, Training, and Data Sharing  Meredith Rawls  University of Washington / Vera C. Rubin Observatory, USA
    Educating observers at all levels internationally  Fatoumata Kébé  Spaceable, France
    Dark Skies and Bright Satellites  Priya Hasan  Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, India
 10:30  Coffee Break  
 11:00  Session 11: Observations, cont.
   Chair: Olivier Hainaut    
    Optical and NIR magnitude measurements of Low Earth
Orbit satellites, from a global observing network
 Jeremy Tregloan-Reed  Universidad de Atacama, Chile
    The Visual Magnitude and Phase Function of Starlink Satellites  Anthony Mallama  USA
    Is OneWeb a threat to astronomy?  Olga María Zamora Sanchez  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain
    An update on Canadian Space-based photometric  Robert Lauchlan Scott  Defence R&D, Canada
    Intruding trails in space-based astronomical observations: the CHEOPS case study  Nicolas Billot  University of Geneva, Switzerland
    Analytical simulations of the effect of satellite constellations  Cees Bassa  ASTRON, Netherlands
    Impact on Science at Today's Telescopes  Angel Otarola  European Southern Observatory, Chile
    Impacts to U.S. Ground-based Facilities  Ashley Zauderer  National Science Foundation, USA
 13:00  Lunch Break
 14:30  Session 12: Algorithms & Aggregate Impact
   Chair: Martin Aubé    
    Recommendations of the Algorithms Working Group from SATCON2  Jonathan McDowell  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA
    Test data suite - for software development and verification  Patrick Seitzer  University of Michigan, USA
    Latest developed features for Worldwide Telescope  Chenzhou Cui & Yunfei Xu  National Astronomical Observatory, China
    The proliferation of space objects is a rapidly increasing source  John Barentine  USA
    New estimates of increased artificial sky brightness from
satellite constellations
 Olivier Hainaut  European Southern Observatory, Germany
 16:30  Session 13: Industry update
   Chair: Sara Lucatello    
    Report of Industry Subgroup from SATCON2  Chris Hofer  Amazon/Kuiper, USA
 17:00  Adjourn - End of day 3    
     Day 4 - Wednesday, 6 October 2021 (UTC+1)
     Satellite Constellation
 09:00  Session 14: National sub-group
   Chair: Andrew Williams    
    Conflicts of Interest? Satellite Constellations and the UK and
European Responses
 R. Massey  Royal Astronomical Society, UK
    WG Update: Report from National policy sub-group  A. Williams / L. Hallet  European Southern Observatory, Germany
    Defining and Regulating the Orbital Environment of Earth  C. Mudd  Mudd Law, US
    Presentation on ITU  V. Glaude  International Telecommunications Union
   Discussion on actions at the national level  L. Hallet  European Southern Observatory, Germany
 11:00  Coffee Break
 11:30  Session 15: International sub-group
   Chair: Giuliana Rotola    
    Report from International sub-group  Giuliana Rotola  ISU
 13:00  Lunch Break
 14:30  Session 16: Satellite Constellation Round table
   Chairs: Giuliana Rotola and Andrew Williams    
   Summary of actions  Participants:
 Charity Weeden, AstroScale
 Therese Jones, Satellite Industry Association
   Satellite Constellation Discussion  
 15:30  Adjourn - End of day 4
     Day 5 - Thursday, 7 October 2021 (UTC+1)
Radio Astronomy
 09:00  Session 17: Astronomy Working Group
   Chair: Harvey Liszt    
   Working group update + Recommendations  Harvey Liszt  IUCAF and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (USA)
    Impact of satellites on measurements of the CMB  Michael Peel  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain)
    Electromagnetic Interference caused by mega-constellations and its impact
on radio astronomy
 Federico di Vruno / Benjamin Winkel  SKA Observatory (UK) / Max Planck Institute für Radioastronomie (Germany)
    Meteor radio technology  Svitlana Kolomiyets  Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics (Ukraine)
 10:30  Panel discussion and further discussion of questions    
 11:00  Coffee Break
 11:30  Session 18: Radio Astronomy - Round Table Discussion-Radio Astronomy, Satellites, Recommendations
   Chair: Harvey Liszt    
    Round Table    
 13:00  Lunch Break
 14:30  Session 19: Summary of recommendations of the conference (ALAN, Satellites, Radio Astronomy)
   Chairs: Niklas Hedman & Piero Benvenuti    
     Panelists: Richard Green, Harvey Liszt, Giuliana Rotola, Andrew Williams  
 16:00  Closing remarks    
   Chair: Connie Walker    
   International Astronomical Union  Jose Miguel Rodriguez Espinosa  Secretary General, IAU
   United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs  Niklas Hedman  Chief, Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, UNOOSA & Secretary of COPUOS
   Government of the Kingdom of Spain  Jose Manuel Ramirez Arrazola  Secretary, Permanent Representation of Spain to the United Nations, Vienna, Austria
 16:30  End of conference    


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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