Dark Sky

“Oregon Outback International Dark-Sky Sanctuary”

Strategy to Nominate a Landscape-Scale

“Oregon Outback International Dark-Sky Sanctuary” within Lake, Harney, and Malheur Counties, Oregon

The nomination application goes first to IDA staff who screen it for completion. Once deemed complete, it then goes to IDSP Review Committee who reviews and makes recommendations for IDA Board approval or sends it back to the applicant for revision.

Download Memorandum: Strategy to Nominate a Landscape-scale “Oregon Outback International Dark-Sky Sanctuary” within Lake, Harney, and Malheur Counties, Oregon

On November 5, 2021, the Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network (ODSN) submitted a pre-application to IDA to nominate “The Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary” (IDSS). The purpose of this memorandum is to describe the project’s background and the strategy that the ODSN has pursued to ensure an efficient, streamlined the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) nomination in Southeastern Oregon that cultivates collaborative partnerships, promotes community-appropriate recreation opportunities, respects public and private lands, and leverages the opportunity to create the largest international dark sky place in the world. The primary objective behind the strategy is to yield a more beneficial and equitable nomination within the remote Oregon Outback.

A landscape-level International Dark Sky Sanctuary nomination in the Oregon Outback would benefit the region environmentally, recreationally, economically, and culturally. Given its vast size it would generate dark sky awareness throughout the Pacific Northwest Region and perhaps beyond. The ultimate sanctuary scenario of a large portion of land within three counties would be triple the size of the current largest International Dark Sky Place in the world, Death Valley National Park. Even if the nomination were to stop at Phase 1A, it would still be the largest IDSP world-wide and would be more than three times larger than the current largest IDSS. This affords an exciting opportunity among Southeastern Oregon community members, business leaders, and statewide dark sky advocates.

As there are numerous components required for an IDA nomination application, a phased approach that provides for broadened partnerships and community support at the grass-roots level is a practical means to achieve the greater vision – and most importantly – to sustain it. This memorandum was prepared to describe the nomination strategy, to invite feedback, and to further cultivate partnerships to actualize an IDSS in one of the most pristine and deserving places in the United States.

Observe the Nigh Sky!

The Oregon Dark Sky Network  is looking to get more sky quality measurements from citizen scientists from areas in Lake, Harney, and Malheur Counties CLOSE to or in towns and cities. It takes about 2 minutes. Anytime about 90 minutes or more after sunset is the time to take the measurement. (You don’t need cell coverage, you can check the GAN website before leaving the house, take a screenshot of the constellation to be observed and come back home and enter your response).

To learn more about Globe at Night, go to

Quality Lighting Teaching Kit
The Quality Lighting Teaching Kit provides six activities which use quality lighting to solve realistic cases on how light pollution affects wildlife, the night sky, our eyes, energy consumption, safety and light trespass into buildings.

Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network

The Oregon Outback Dark Sky is a voluntary grass-roots initiative to build an alliance of communities, businesses, local governments, ranchers, state and federal agencies, tribes, and Oregon Outback night sky enthusiasts to support a set of shared principles resulting in mutual community benefits and the long-term conservation of our starry night heritage.

Globe at Night Campaign 2021

In 2020 citizen scientists from around the world contributed 29,545 data points! This year we're off to a great start with 4,532 observations already submitted as part of the Love the Stars campaign. In February and March you can show your love for the stars by observing and submitting Globe at Night data points. Here is a video on why participate and here is a video on how to participate. Help us reach our goal of 15,000 data points for 2021!

International Dark Sky Association

The International Dark-Sky Association works to protect the night skies for present and future generations.

Stargazing in Lake County

The skies in Lake County are among the most pristine, and Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is an ideal spot that checks all the boxes. Remote, high and very dark, it’s located atop a fault block overlooking the Warner Valley. Primitive camping is available at the Hot Springs Campground; in fact, few experiences beat stargazing while soaking in a natural mineral bath. During the day you can hike, view pronghorn and search for petroglyphs. Lakeview also offers lodging.

Summer Lake is another choice spot in Lake County. Wildlife watchers frequent the marshes at the Summer Lake Wildlife Area for the outstanding birding, and there are many options for camping and lodging, including Summer Lake Hot Springs, a privately owned resort. 

Want to stargaze and stay in Lakeview? Take a drive up Bullard Canyon or hike the Noni Trail aka Bullard Canyon Trail. Literally right in town, the Noni Trail starts behind the Lakeview Community pool with a view of the town from above.  3.5 miles of easy hiking, with a gradual climb, it’s a great hike for the family.  It takes you along trees and rock outcroppings with plenty of natural brush and animal viewing.