April 15-22 Is International Dark Sky Week

International Dark Sky Week flyer—International Dark Sky Association, Tucson

Sam Miller

SaddleBrooke Ranch is fortunate to have a reasonably dark nighttime sky to view the stars and other amazing objects. April 15 through 22 is International Dark Sky Week in which communities around the world celebrate the opportunity to view the night sky while also emphasizing the destructive nature of light pollution. It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences to all living things. Governor Katie Hobbs recently signed a declaration to join the international community to proclaim April 15 through 22 as Dark Sky Week in Arizona. Also, the SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club teams with the International Dark Sky Association during Dark Sky Week to help members of our community understand that light pollution not only inhibits our view of the night sky, but also disrupts wildlife, impacts human health, wastes money and energy, and contributes to climate change.

It is important to note that not all light is polluting, and “effective outdoor lighting” does not mean no lighting. Light for safety, security, and convenience can all be incorporated in an outdoor lighting plan if accomplished in accordance with Pinal County and SaddleBrooke Ranch ALC guidelines. SaddleBrooke Ranch is a “Low Ambient Light Zone” and the ordinances we have in place were primarily written to accommodate the numerous astronomy research facilities around the Tucson area (Mt. Lemmon, Kitt Peak, Mt. Hopkins, and Mt. Graham), many of which are supported by the University of Arizona. Obviously, we have no streetlights or glaring video billboards in SaddleBrooke Ranch that contribute to light pollution. Our homes/facilities were originally constructed to incorporate the low ambient outdoor designs required by county ordinances. Effective outdoor lighting typically consists of the lowest ambient levels appropriate for the need, downward-pointing fixtures, and lighting with minimum glare that does not trespass into a neighbor’s area. Unfortunately, over time some residents may have replaced those low-light fixtures with open, bright fixtures and high luminosity bulbs and could be subject to SaddleBrooke Ranch ALC attention.

Although we have relatively good night skies here in SaddleBrooke Ranch, research has shown that more than 80% of the world’s population live under sky glow and residents in those areas cannot observe more than a few bright stars at night, if any at all. Unfortunately, as our population increases, so does the impact of increasing light levels. This short video source, www.darksky.org/light-pollution, illustrates the effects of light pollution on our night sky and offers solutions. As the video explains, transitioning to effective lighting produces immediate results by reducing the offending light.

Light pollution is a topic that has been sufficiently researched. If interested in the SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club, information can be obtained by emailing David Evans at [email protected], or you can learn more about the International Dark Sky Association by emailing Sam Miller at [email protected].