International Dark Sky Reserve "Rhön"
Since 2014, the Rhön Biosphere Reserve is one of 16 International Dark Sky Reserves, certified by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).The IDA designates International Dark Sky Places – Parks, Reserves, Communities and Sanctuaries – following a rigorous application process requiring applicants to demonstrate robust community support for dark sky protection and document designation-specific program requirements.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization established the Rhön Biosphere Reserve, also known as Biosphärenreservat Rhön, in 1991. It comprises 1,720 square kilometers of protected lands including the entire central region of the Rhön Mountains, where the German federal states of Hesse, Bavaria and Thuringia meet. Reaching elevations of up to 950 meters, the Rhön region is often referred to as the Land der offenen Fernen (“land of endless horizons”).
The darkest night skies of the reserve are in the core zone. The buffer zone, which includes more populated areas, protects the core’s dark skies through the enacting of responsible outdoor light policies by municipal councils. The Rhön Dark Sky Reserve is unique within the Dark Sky Places Program in that its “core” consists of three distinct, non-contiguous areas: Hohe Geba in the northeast, Lange Rhön in the center, and Schwarze Berge in the south.