A small city in Arizona made significant efforts in order to preserve a darker sky by using as few artificial light as possible. Satellite images show the success of the collective efforts and display a paradise for stargazers.
The state of Arizona hosts mountainous landscapes that gather many astronomy enthusiasts looking for perfect places where to watch the skies. They are also the preservers of darkness, making innumerable efforts to keep the sky dark. This includes using significantly less lights than other states or replacing them with dimmed LED lights. Arizona also hosts three of the largest American telescopes.
Darkness preserving is highly enjoyed by the stargazers, since it allows for a better viewing of the stars or of the Milky Way. But the issue of darkness goes beyond astronomy. It proves beneficial for the environment and wildlife preservation. A darker sky helps in bird migration and in the survival of insects that are eaten by large animals. It also has a good impact on public health and safety.
The city who made major efforts in the sense is Flagstaff. They started working towards this nearly 60 years ago and images captured last July display their victory. The city is also the home of Lowell Observatory. The images were taken by a panoramic camera and show that light emission in Flagstaff is nearly 14 times lower than that in Cheyenne. They display light in colors from all specters in Phoenix, Cheyenne, or Fort Collins, but only faint shades of yellow and green are to be seen around Flagstaff.
Cities showed a few fears of going completely dark. The lack of street lights or of electronic billboard lights may threaten public safety by raising the number of crimes. Businesses have also showed concern and opposed strict regulations in Arizona. They implied creating a buffer zone from the light around the observatories and, in 2012, they issued a ban on electronic signs in two counties. Last year’s legislation would have allowed for the signs to be posted in rural areas, but they eventually failed to succeed.
The National Park Service studies the effects city lighting has on the night sky as a part of the collective effort on having a darker sky. Results show a way better result that it would have been expected.
Image Source: Pexels