Chile issues a new lighting standard to protect its dark skies

19 October 2023

Chile, ESO’s partner country and host to all three of its astronomical observatories, has yesterday issued a new standard to protect the country's dark skies, which are considered unique in the world.

The new standard, established by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment, aims to control emissions from outdoor lighting and signs, to prevent pollution from artificial luminosity, protecting the astronomical quality of the night skies, the health of people, and biodiversity [1] in Chile.

The standard will regulate light emissions throughout Chile, expanding the norm that is already in force in the regions of Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo, where all ESO observatories are located, among other international centres present in the country.

Public lighting in Chile will be adjusted to favour the composition of light in amber tones and limit blue light. Likewise, advertising and sports lighting will be subject to schedule control, which, for example, will allow greater rest for the populations near promotional posters. Moreover, preventive control of products or projects that do not comply with these guidelines will be strengthened.

This new regulation is added to the recent publication of the decree of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation of Chile that establishes areas of scientific value and research in astronomical observation in Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo. This standard establishes special requirements in 29 communes of these regions, which are special protected areas for astronomy. This exemplifies the firm commitment of Chile, both its institutions and academia, to astronomy and its value as an engine of development in society.

The creation of these new standards had the collaboration of ESO and other professional observatories installed in Chile, through the Office for the Protection of the Sky Quality in Northern Chile (OPCC), as well as the advice of the Cielos de Chile Foundation.


[1] For the first time, this standard incorporates local biodiversity as an object of protection, thus allowing the recovery of endangered species threatened by light pollution.



Francisco Rodriguez
ESO Chile Press Officer
Santiago, Chile

Bárbara Ferreira
ESO Media Manager
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6670

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A Kaleidoscope of Colour
A Kaleidoscope of Colour