Natural versus artificial night landscape

The effect of the natural landscape by night derives from the presence of deep shadows. The scenery is formed by landscape structures such as mountain ranges or forest silhouettes, which stand out against the night sky, and bodies of water that reflect the stars.

An unrestricted view of such phenomena as the full moon, shooting stars or the Milky Way also enhances one's perceptions through the senses of hearing and smell, making the night landscape a very special – and increasingly rare – experience.

The night landscape is mysterious; its character is unique and also a source of identity.

Night Landscape with Hunters by a Fire
Night Landscape with Hunters by a Fire – oil painting by the landscape artist Carl Ludwig Scheins, 1879 (at the latest)
© Christoph Malin
© Christoph Malin

... versus künstliche Nachtlandschaft

Lichtglocken lassen den Sternenhimmel verschwinden, Kunstlicht zieht die Aufmerksamkeit auf sich und beide Phänomene mindern das Erleben der Nachtlandschaft.

Rastlosigkeit sowie die Gewöhnung an Lichtüberflutung werden gefördert und in der Folge der Erholungswert geschmälert.

Mit dem Verlust des Sternenhimmels geht auch der Bezug des Menschen zur Umwelt und Natur verloren.

The nocturnal landscape

© Stefanie Suchy
© Christoph Malin
© Hellenot
Urban. Mountain. Sky.
© Hellenot
Island in the Sky - La Palma Starry Nights
© Hellenot
Blackout City

Nature tourism – windows on the sky

Tourist attractions in the form of star parks, light protection areas, theme trails and observatories raise awareness for the protection of the nocturnal habitat and public enjoyment of the starry sky without the restrictions imposed by artificial light.

In economically disadvantaged regions especially, towns and Alpine valleys promote their beautiful night landscapes and impressive starry skies. They benefit from nature tourism just like the health tourism industry, which has recognised the importance of an intact day-night rhythm.


Organisations dedicated to the protection of the nocturnal sky:

Organisation like the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) in the USA and also the UNESCO Starlight Reserve on the Canary Islands have established programmes and awards for the protection for the night sky and the natural nocturnal landscape. In many countries, such as Germany, Great Britain and Hungary, there are areas where the night sky has been specially protected for some years now.

© Anphex
The Westhavelland Nature Park, 70 km west of Berlin, was the first place in Germany to be awarded the "Star Park" label.
© Hellenot
A Colorado Town Goes Dark
© Hellenot
Night Sky – Grand Canyon

Grossmugl on the Milky Way:

In the Weinviertel district, not far from Vienna, there is an innovative tourist attraction in the form of a star trail called Grossmugl on the Milky Way. The theme trail was created in 2014 in the context of the Nightflight project in close cooperation with the market town of Grossmugl. An application is pending for recognition as a UNESCO Starlight Oasis.


© project nightflight