The starry sky, a territorial commons? - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2022

The starry sky, a territorial commons?


Flagstaff, Arizona, United States, April 15, 1958: the city council adopts the ordinance n°440 which aims at “preventing a rapid deterioration of the visibility of the starry sky”. This regulation results from the mobilization of the Lowell Observatory astronomers against certain public lighting devices. Through this political act, the elected officials place their city at the epicenter of an emergent international movement: the ‘Dark-sky movement’. The first replica of this movement is felt in 1972 in Tucson, Arizona. From a discomfort perceived by astronomers from the Lowell and Kitt Peak observatories, the idea of ‘light pollution’ emerges and begins to spread through different networks and authorities in astronomy and lighting. The negative effects of artificial nocturnal light (ALAN) spread with the urban sprawl, and leads in the 90's, under the aegis of professional astronomers, to attempts at the patrimonialization of the starry sky in international organizations such as UNESCO. However, these attempts remain at the level of a declaration of principle: the starry sky, an intangible asset, does not fall within the criteria of UNESCO's heritage protection. The associations of the Dark-sky movement pursue their objective of preserving the starry sky by relying on ‘International dark sky places’, built on the center-periphery spatial model of protected areas. The recent rise in ecological issues and human and non-human well-being are redefining the methods of combating light pollution and its governance. Our communication will return to this paradigm shift. It will discuss the concept of the ‘dark ecological network’ as a social-ecological framework capable of extending the fight against light pollution to exceptional as well as ordinary skies. We will thus show that for us, making the starry sky a common good involves the territorialization of the darkness preservation in remarkable and ordinary territories.
Not file

Dates and versions

hal-03784201 , version 1 (22-09-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03784201 , version 1


Samuel Challéat, Johan Milian, Dany Lapostolle, Magalie Franchomme, Kévin Barré, et al.. The starry sky, a territorial commons?. IASC 2021 Commons in Space Virtual Conference, International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC); Arizona State University; University of Arizona, Feb 2021, Arizona, United States. ⟨hal-03784201⟩
41 View
0 Download


Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More