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Decades ago, Lowell Observatory began working to protect this important natural resource. In 1958, as the observatory partnered with Ohio Wesleyan University to relocate a large research telescope from Ohio to Arizona, scientists became concerned with searchlights that might hinder the dark skies at the proposed new locality. A discussion with city officials led to the creation of an ordinance limiting use of the lights. This was the first such lighting ordinance designed to preserve dark skies. Since then, other organizations such as the US Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station and Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, as well as many individuals, have joined the cause for dark skies. Further city and county regulations resulted through the year.

Dark Skies


The International Dark-sky Association (IDA) is the leading international organization for dark-sky protection worldwide. Visit their site to obtain extensive information about dark-sky protection, as well as on how your region or community can join Flagstaff and other communities as a recognized dark-sky place.

Given the myriad ways in which we humans have all but severed our connection to the natural world, perhaps none will prove to be as profound as the loss of the night sky and of our connection to the dark.

High elevations, low population densities, dry climate, and abundance of clear nights makes New Mexico the perfect destination for stargazing adventures. Here in the Land of Enchantment, we celebrate our dark skies and relish in the starlight.

Stargazing in New Mexico is an ancient and authentic experience. For indigenous people who lived on this land long before its colonization and who reside in New Mexico today, the connection to the night skies have always been both spiritual and sacred. For Native people today, the night skies are still used as a guidance in daily living and religious ceremonies.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument protects four of the best-preserved 17th century Spanish mission churches in the continental United States of America. The Salinas basin formed ancient salt beds from which the monument derives its name and drew early inhabitants. Modern visitors value the largely unchanged cultural landscape, which also includes structures and infrastructure, vegetation, view sheds, and pristine night skies and natural sounds.

This peaceful, starry, quiet place was the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in the Northern Hemisphere. The Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary is easily accessible from U.S. Highway 180 between Alma and Reserve. A tall, brown Forest Service Cosmic Campground sign sits halfway between mile marker 37 and 38. Across U.S. Highway 180, an orange cattle guard begins the 1.3-mile, hard-surface road to the Cosmic Campground. Arrive in daylight for a 360-degree view of the setting sun. As darkness falls, planets and stars emerge. Complete darkness finds the Milky Way crowning the mountains of the Gila Wilderness, as well as the faint glow of distant galaxies and zodiacal light. Cosmic Campground has a hard-surface observing area with four pads for telescopes, no artificial light for nearly 25 miles in any direction, and an exceptionally dark sky. Visit their website: Cosmic Campground.

Love Ridge: Stargazing ExperienceStay at Love Ridge and enjoy the delights of viewing the night sky with little ambient light. This Package is perfect to take in the night skies for an evening of family fun. Borrow our stargazing kit including special binoculars, star map, star guide and flashlight. You will also get two bags of local popcorn and information on prime stargazing locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We are excited to announce that James River State Park is a designated international dark-sky park. We have been working with the International Dark-Sky Association to do our part in protecting our night skies from light pollution, and we invite you to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment with us. This is a unique, two-night opportunity that only comes once a year and will be the largest gathering of astronomers at the park.

Michigan is lucky to play host to both dark sky preserves and parks that offer stellar celestial landscapes. These locations are specially designated because they have qualities that complement nighttime viewing, such as the ability to limit the amount of artificial light. There are also plenty of excellent night-sky viewing opportunities across more than 15,000 square miles in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Stargazers can visit areas of state parks, specially designated by state legislature as dark sky preserves, 24 hours a day (may not be consistently plowed in the winter). These areas are signed and located in the following state parks:

This worldwide designation is granted by the International Dark Sky Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1988 with the goal of reducing light pollution and protecting night skies for the present and into the future. Not only is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) the first Minnesota site and first federally designated wilderness site to be named an International Dark Sky Sanctuary; at 1,098,000 acres, will also be the largest.

Dark skies, starry nights and astonishing northern lights displays have been part of the Boundary Waters experience long before the area was designated wilderness with the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act and 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act. According to Ann Schwaller, BWCAW program manager, these conservation and preservation laws, policy and guidance all led to the protection of the night skies for scientific, natural, educational, cultural and public enjoyment values. These are all part of protecting wilderness character.

Comal County has adopted an Order to help preserve our dark skies in a portion of Comal County. The Texas Legislature has authorized counties to regulate outdoor lighting in areas adjacent to military installations.

As the international dark sky movement began in Flagstaff in 1958, our community has always been keenly aware of the special value of the night sky. The Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition and the greater community of Flagstaff are proud to remain world leaders in practical and successful dark sky protection.

Our mission is to Celebrate, Promote, and Protect the glorious Dark Skies of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona, and to provide guidance in successful strategies to reduce light pollution through the Flagstaff Example. Become a member or donate, wherever you live, and support our mission to actually improve night skies worldwide! Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

The City of Flagstaff and the northern Arizona region have achieved worldwide recognition for innovative leadership in the protection of dark skies. Beginning with Ordinance 400 in 1958 that addressed searchlights, over a half-century of policy decisions and implementations have fostered an astronomy industry that now includes Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer, the National Undergraduate Research Observatory, the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Center, and the new Discovery Channel Telescope. Public support for protection of the night sky for both general enjoyment and professional deep space research has become an established element of community and regional identity.

To remain one of the premiere astronomic sites in the world, to properly recognize preservation of naturally dark night skies as a persistent expression of community values, and to better-utilize a critical economic and tourism attractant, the region must implement evolving standards that proactively address problems associated with increased artificial light, air pollution, illuminated signage, and development - both adjacent to major scientific instruments and within the region.

It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive.

Letters to the editor (LTE) can be a compelling way to raise awareness about an issue. They are some of the most read pieces in newspapers or magazines. Writing an LTE about dark skies can inform the public about light pollution issues they are likely not aware of.

The City of Fredericksburg received its designation as a Dark Sky Community in 2020. The requirements to do so included having a quality comprehensive lighting code, community commitment to dark skies and quality lighting, community commitment to dark skies and education, success in light pollution control, and a sky brightness measurement program. Dark Sky monitoring equipment was installed on the roof of the Club House at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Golf Course. The equipment and the monitoring computer were all donated by Ken Kattner and the Putman Mountain Observatory. Information is collected after the sun begins to set. Data is read every five minutes and then every fifteen minutes. Those data points are then averaged so that there are four readings per hour. All this data is uploaded to and can be viewed at -country-dark-sky-monitors/. More information about Dark Sky monitoring, can be found at -quality-monitoring/.In Texas thus far, the only Dark Sky Communities are Dripping Springs, Horseshoe Bay, Wimberley Valley, and Lakewood Village, however, many others are also in the process of joining including Llano, Mason, and Blanco. There are only 35 Dark Sky Communities in the world with the majority (25) being in the United States.

Named The Most Beautiful Spot in Every U.S. State by MSN Travel in 2017: "Pennsylvania: Cherry Springs is possibly the best spot for stargazing in all of the U.S. On a given night, 10,000 stars are visible to the naked eye." See the stars like you've never seen them before, with an unforgettable visit to Cherry Springs State Park! Honored with the 2017 PA Wild's "Great Places Award," the park's incredible, awe-inspiring dark skies attract a high volume of astronomers and stargazers for views of the Milky Way, planets, and hard-to-see astronomical objects and phenomena. 041b061a72


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