The tiny Channel Island community of Sark was awarded the distinction of becoming the world’s first Dark Sky Island in 2011, indicating its excellent light-free location for naked eye astronomical observation.
The International Dark Sky Association was formed in 1988 in the United States by astronomer Dr. David Crawford and physician Dr. Timothy Hunter to raise awareness of light pollution and its effect on our nighttime ability to stargaze.
Located in the waters between France and England, Sark’s placement, far from big city light helped in its selection, as did its lack of automobiles and street lights. The citizens of Sark also made special accommodations, including adjusting existing lights in order to optimize the darkness.
There are several other Dark Sky locations around the world, including Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, Borrego Springs in California, and Hortobagy National Park in Hungary.
With a population of just about 600, Sark has its own parliament and its own laws based in ancient Norman tradition. Long standing as the last stronghold of the feudal system of government in Europe, Sark only introduced a democratic system of government in 2006. Up until then the tiny island could trace its governing system directly to a fiefdom set up under Queen Elizabeth I.