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Photo courtesy of Jim Peterson

In the Verde Valley, we treasure our dark skies. They provide a constant source of wonder and awe, connecting us to the natural world in a unique way.

dark-sky-association-memberWhen we go outside at night and look up, whether it’s through a telescope, with binoculars, or just with our unaided eyes, we can see spread before us the moon, the planets, the stars, our Milky Way Galaxy, and the entire grand universe that we’re a part of. We become connected to our environment in a way that urban dwellers can hardly imagine.

Keep Sedona Beautiful is proud to have been at the forefront of the dark sky movement in Northern Arizona. Past President Joanne Kendrick led our effort that resulted in Sedona being named the 8th location in the world to be declared a dark sky community by the International Dark Sky Association in 2014. This was followed by the Village of Oak Creek in 2016, Camp Verde in 2018, and Cottonwood in 2019. Learn more about our efforts at: https://www.keepsedonabeautiful.org/dark-skies/.

Sedona Dark Sky Poster2016

Our dark skies also attract visitors who relish the quiet of the night, when they can contemplate the mysteries of the universe. These are the types of visitors we want to attract to the Verde Valley.

Besides the impact on us, dark skies are critically important for wildlife. Many animals are nocturnal, coming out to feed and breed once the sun goes down. Bright lights at night are disruptive and destructive to these animals. These lights can also disrupt diurnal animals’ sleep patterns.

While artificial lighting has been a boon to humanity, we’re now realizing the importance of creating dark sky oases where we do not intrude on nature. And make no mistake, artificial lighting is the overwhelming cause of disruption to the night skies. Just take a look on a moonless night to the south, and from the Verde Valley, you’ll see the glow of the Phoenix metropolitan area, the 5th largest in the US.

US at Nighttime - dark skies

NASA Image

The dark sky communities in the Verde Valley are committed to retaining and improving our dark skies. They have enacted lighting codes that require new construction to meet certain standards while also ensuring the safety of residents. These standards do not require property owners to retrofit their non-compliant lighting, but that’s exactly where KSB is working to have an impact.

In 2022, our 50th year of protecting and enhancing the scenic beauty and natural environment of Sedona and the Verde Valley, we’re initiating a project to assist businesses and individuals who want to replace their non-compliant lighting. If you’re interested in helping on this effort, please contact us at info@keepsedonabeautiful.org.

You can also play your part by evaluating your own lighting and making any needed changes to either your home or business:

  • Outdoor landscape lighting should be shielded and point down, not up.
  • Sconces and any lighting mounted on outside walls should also be shielded and point down
  • If you have security lights, consider adding motion sensors so that those lights come on only when needed.
  • Add timers to your outdoor lighting so they turn off automatically when no longer needed to light the way for you or your visitors.
  • Choose bulbs that have a color temperature of no more than 3000 Kelvins.

The International Dark Sky Association’s website has a wealth of information to help you become dark sky compliant:

We’ve also located some excellent information for businesses and engineers with dark sky compliant products that can be used for lighting parking lots, enterways, walkways and similar large spaces.

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Photo courtesy of J.D. Maddy