Capture the Dark
Photography plays a powerful role in the dark sky movement. A photograph of the naturally dark sky connects those who’ve never laid eyes on the naturally dark sky to a universe hidden behind the veil of skyglow. Similarly, images that portray the impact of light pollution can spark conservation awareness and action. Photography has the power to transport us and inspire us to connect with and ultimately protect the night.
In celebration, the International Dark-Sky Association is hosting the third annual Capture the Dark Photography Contest! It is free to enter and open to entrants worldwide.
Winners of each category will receive a prize package that includes a feature in IDA’s Nightscape publication, the IDA blog and social media, an IDA membership, IDA and Visit Utah swag, and a Peak Design Field Pouch.
The winner of the People's Choice award will receive a prize package that includes a $250.00 gift card to B&H, a feature in IDA’s Nightscape publication, the IDA blog and social media, an IDA membership, and IDA and Visit Utah swag. The people’s choice will be determined by public voting which will open on July 6th
Voting is now open! From the Gallery page, you can vote for your favorite image to win the People's Choice Award! You are allowed one free vote per day, and can donate to IDA to get more votes to support your favorite photographer! You can search for a photo, or filter by category. All proceeds help support IDA's mission to protect the night from light pollution.
Enter The Competition
Make sure you read the Rules.
Learn more about each Category
Connecting to the Dark
Experiencing a natural night provides perspective, inspiration, and leads us to reflect on our humanity and place in the universe. Share a photo that illustrates our connection to the night.
International Dark Sky Place
Over 170 protected lands and municipalities around the world have been certified by IDA as an International Dark Sky Place creating havens for astrophotographers. Share a photo taken in one of these locations.
The Impact of Light Pollution
Light pollution can have significant impacts on the environment, human health, and our access to the night sky. Share a shot that demonstrates the impact of light pollution. This category also includes images of terrible lighting, glare bombs, etc.
The Bright Side of Lighting
Light pollution can give artificial lighting a bad reputation, but lighting that follows IDA’s Principles for Responsible Outdoor Light can be beautiful, healthy, and functional. Share a shot of lighting that respects the dark.
Creatures of the Night
Light pollution doesn’t only erase our view of the stars, scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on wildlife including amphibians, birds, insects, and mammals. Share a photo of a creature that is impacted by light pollution.
For thousands of years, humans have looked to the night sky and wondered what is out there. Today, we can take photos of deep space objects from our own backyards. Share a photo of an object(s) such as nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters.
The Mobile Photographer
No big camera? No problem! Share a shot from any of the above categories taken with a cell phone, tablet, or GoPro. No DSLR, mirrorless camera, or drone shots.
Share a shot for any of the above categories taken by someone 17 years old or younger.
Utah Dark Skies
Presenting Sponsor Visit Utah encourages you to share a photo taken in one of the most popular destinations to capture dark skies — Utah, U.S.
- June 22nd - Contest Opens for Entries closed July 21
- July 6th - Voting Opens
- July 21st - Entry Period Closes
- August 7 - Voting Closes
- August 30th - Winners announced!
- Start by selecting the Category to enter.
- Press the Select file... button and select your image.
- Enter your details in the entry form.
- Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
- Press Submit.
The upload period is currently not active.
Babak Tafreshi is a science photojournalist working with the National Geographic. The creator of The World at Night (TWAN) program, his photos and videos of the night sky merge art, culture, and science by bridging Earth & sky. They reconnect people with the night sky and importance of the natural nights
Jeanine Holowatuik is a Canadian aurora chaser, astrophotographer and explorer. Founding Northern Escape Photography in 2017, she’s a recognized, and published photographer focused on capturing the northern lights and astro landscapes. With a mission to share the beauty of night, Jeanine highlights earth’s connection to the sky in her work, bringing the viewer right into the moment. Capturing most of her work over the past 6 years close to home in Saskatchewan, Canada, while working a full time day job, Jeanine also loves to travel to other dark sky locations to promote astrotourism. With a passion and love for astronomy and space weather she promotes the importance of dark sky awareness and the astronomical wonders of the night sky through her social media, presentations, workshops, photography and writing.
Jorgelina Alvarez. Born in Las Flores, Argentina. From a very young age she had a fascination for the sky, storms and stars - leading her at an adult age to become an apprentice of the sciences and in Astrophotography, a means to show and disseminate astronomy, meteorology through Astro Tourism. Touring different corners of the world, from Antarctica to Quiaca - Jorgelina has captured each landscape with its unique perspective of the night sky. Her work has appeared in different national and international media, been awarded by Forbes magazine, and has exhibited in the Chamber of Deputies among others. Jorgelina’s passion is to show the Universe to the whole world in a simple and holistic way with her photographs.
Miguel Claro is a professional night photographer, author and a science communicator based in Portugal. Is the official astrophotographer of Dark Sky® Alqueva Reserve - the first “Starlight Tourism Destination” in the world. Is an ESO Photo Ambassador from the European Southern Observatory, a Space.com Contributor and a TWAN photographer member. He has been a lecturer in two editions of TEDx, and a speaker at CEDIC´17 “Central European Deepsky Imaging Conference” in Austria. Winner of “Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award 2019” . He collaborates regularly with National Geographic (Portugal), Astronomy (USA), Astronomy Now (UK). His images have traveled the world and been published in books and in the most prestigious international magazines, as well as distinguished by NASA as APOD – Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Nayana Rajesh is an 18 year old photographer originally from Dallas, Texas, currently living in Sonoma County, California, USA. She has been photographing for about 7 years, and her photography is focused around landscape and nightscapes, with an emphasis on capturing the Milky Way. Nayana was named the National Geographic People's Choice Winner for the 2019 Student Photography Contest, and IDA's Capture The Dark Youth Winner in 2020. She was also the Runner Up Young Travel Photographer of the Year in 2021. Nayana is passionate about the preservation of the natural world, especially through the preservation of our dark skies. Nayana will be attending the University of California, Davis in the fall to study Psychology, and is excited to pursue photography within the diverse landscapes of California.
Rachel Gillespie is a full-time Astrophotographer and Landscape Photographer and Guide in the Aoraki Mackenzie Country, Fiordland and many South Island locations and hosts guests for guided glacier walks and photography, photo workshops. With DOC permits for 130 tracks you can tailor your own adventure. Her passion is the night sky and astrophotography is her love along with landscapes. Adventuring in the Aoraki Mount Cook Dark Sky Reserve (Gold Rated) and the extended South Island is where you will find her when she is not being a busy mum of 3. She also has a busy print and canvas business and teaches printing workshops all the do’s and don’ts that come with fine art production and a 12 month mentoring program for how to make income from photography Her passion for teaching others how to get their cameras off auto, and master manual settings, find their confidence in the outdoors alongside her clients and capture her beautiful country is her life’s work. She will take you to her special spots and locations.
Ye Ziyi is an astronomy photographer and influencer who has more than 5 million followers on Chinese social media. She has rich experience in astronomy photographing and has traveled to more than 40 countries on seven continents to shoot astronomical phenomena for over ten years, such as total solar eclipses and meteor showers. Her workpieces win many awards in astrophotography competitions both domestically and overseas. Her passion for public welfare and announcement that people should raise awareness of the sky and the influence of light pollution.
Jack Fusco is a landscape astrophotographer, on an often-sleepless journey, striving to share the wonder of the night sky. His work has been featured by National Geographic, TEDx, LA Times, NASA APOD, BBC, Forbes and many more.
For the past 6 years, Sandra Salvas has been the producer of all things photo and video for the Utah Office of Tourism. She has been dedicated to the highest standards of content creation with a passionate focus on journalistic editorial work while promoting prepared, and thoughtful travel messaging through inspirational, in-depth, storytelling. When she’s not navigating her way through the six corners of Utah on assignment, you can find her pedaling through the mountains and desert, skiing when the snow flies, and obsessing over her two dogs.
The International Dark-Sky Associaton (IDA) is the leading organization combatting light pollution worldwide. Since 1988, IDA has promoted win-win solutions that allow people to appreciate naturally dark, star-filled skies while enjoying the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting. Our impact reaches 57 countries on six continents, with members, volunteer advocates, and International Dark Sky Places around the globe helping to preserve the natural nighttime environment.
Learn more at darksky.org.