Phoenix Astronomical Society

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Turn Off that Bad Outdoor Lighting and Help Us Preserve the Desert Night Sky by installing dark sky friendly lighting. We can have it both ways - well lit, safe areas and see the stars. All it takes is a little effort and knowledge on YOUR part. Plus you will save money and energy at the same time!

Be a part of the solution and not the problem - Know the Code - your local lighting code.

P.A.S. supports and endorses the efforts of IDA, the International Dark-Sky Association. This organization provides guidelines for outdoor lighting that is astronomer-friendly. They also create model lighting codes for statutory jurisdictions and educational programs designed to help reduce light pollution. PAS maintains an official IDA Liaison on our staff to facilitate IDA policy at the local level. To learn more about IDA you can visit their web site by clicking on their logo.

Outdoor lights that meet Dark Sky specifications can be identified
at retail outlets by looking for their IDA seal of approval.

Only ten percent of the world's population can see the Milky Way. The rest live in places with nights so stained by man made light that the stars, for them, have gone out.

Along the skyline, our sprawling cities pollute the night skies with light. From the Grand Canyon, you can see the glow of Las Vegas. Never have so many of us lived under such compromised skies. Excess light affects the ecological processes, throws off the migration and song patterns of birds, and confuses the egg-laying patterns of tortoise. Millions of moths die around porch lights, and when entire species go extinct, they take their plant symbionts with them.
The International Dark-Sky Association of Tucson works to help cities and individuals make more informed lighting choices. "The Arizona desert used to have pristine night skies, but now international astronomers are giving up on the observatories within the United States," states Bob Gent, Director of the Western Region of the Astronomical League. "Cities use inappropriate lighting, ruining the beautiful night skies, and people's chance to gaze upward in wonder and amazement."
Mostly I remember the quality of light, how bright it was once I turned off my lamp and allowed my eyes to adjust. Yet to say "bright" is to reduce the measure of moonlight to wattage. To ignore that eerie, ivory-edged quality. That thin-veined, icicle-breathed, heathen-light made up of coyote howls, nighthawk wings, and unborn souls. I swim through that light slowly with all my senses open. The hollows of the night are filled with life. I will walk out into it gladly. The Night People have invited me.
Excerpted from "Nocturnal Cantata" by Susan Zwinger
published in the Plateau Journal entitled "Dusk to Dawn"
ISSN 1092-2814

That the Night May be Adorned with Stars

Key to the continuation of pioneering astronomical research on the Colorado Plateau is the preservation of its splendid darkness. Light pollution impairs our appreciation of the night sky in much the same way that air pollution limits daytime visibility. In most suburban areas, the number of visible stars to the unaided eye on any given night is around a hundred. Fewer than 10 percent of the citizens of the U.S. currently live in areas where the Milky Way is visible, but there is still no Federal legislation that mandates the preservation of the night sky.
Light pollution is mostly the product of public lighting that goes to waste. Unshielded public street lights often pour as much light up into the sky as down onto the ground where it's needed. It's been estimated that, in the U.S. alone, billions of dollars a year in energy cost could be saved by simply replacing high wattage, unshielded street lamps with lower wattage, shielded lights. The amount of light delivered to the ground would be the same. As an added bonus, less carbon dioxide and other pollutants would be introduced into the atmosphere because power plants would be producing less energy for lighting.
The dark night sky is a kind of geography of dreams, a chronicle of the myths and legends of early human civilizations and the aspirations of the human spirit. Our starry wilderness is worthy of the same protection as are other natural preserves. Seeing the black of night spangled with stars stimulates the human imagination, entreating us to ask the Big Questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Are other beings out there wondering if the spark of life has ignited on distant, starry worlds?
--Andre Bormanis
Plateau Journal "Dusk to Dawn"
ISSN 1092-2814

Many people tell me how blessed I am that I have such a dark sky in my own backyard, this I know and I have to stay ever vigilant and stay informed to keep it that way. Still the glow from my own town and cities near by are eating away at the bright stars sparkling on the black velvet of night. We as lovers of the night's incredible beauty need to be informed and educate others of the terrible harm that bad lighting can cause, not only to the night, but ourselves, the environment and animals.
Arizona is so important to the Astronomical community that there are laws in place to protect the night sky, but they do no good if no one knows about them. You owe it to yourself, your community, and the generations that follow us to know your local lighting codes. These are known as Dark Sky Ordinances and it is the responsibility of the Zoning Commissioner to enforce them.
Phone numbers
  • Maricopa County - Toll free outside Metro area 1-800-540-5570 General Information 602-506-3011
  • Yavapai County: 928-771-3200

Here are some phone #s and names if you are experiencing light trespass from a streetlight on your property:
  • City of Phoenix lighting request line - 602-495-5125 - leave a message with address and streetlight #, say you need the light shielded. They will either shield it or replace the lamp.
  • Christy Lufbam - City of Phoenix (very helpful lady) 602-371-6134
  • APS street lighting - 602-371-6134
It is the property owner that must initiate this, and APS must comply to the Dark Sky ordinance.
Even if you don't live in Arizona there may still be hope. Check and see if your state has any Dark Sky Ordinances here.
Barbara Hartman - Dark Sky Advocate

One of our members, Dan Heim, created a document with the assistance of New River resident Rolfe Waage and a local attorney who is also an amateur astronomer. It is entitled "The Top 10 Reasons for Not Installing a Dusk-to-Dawn, Mercury Vapor Yard Light." (Other than the fact that it has been illegal to do so since January 1, 2005.) It originally ran in the Desert Advocate newspaper back in 1997, and has been reprinted many times since. We provide it below for copyright-free unlimited distribution in the spirit of education. You can download this document below:
Dan's motto is: The only good night lights are billions of miles away. Ponder that.
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