SaddleBrooke 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 the SaddleBrooke Architectural & Landscaping Committee (ALC) guidelines. SaddleBrooke 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 (Mount Lemmon, Kitt Peak, Mount Hopkins, and Mount Graham), many of which are supported by the University of Arizona. Obviously, we have no streetlights or glaring video billboards here in SaddleBrooke that contribute to light pollution. Our homes and facilities were originally constructed to incorporate the low-ambient outdoor designs required by county ordinances. As explained in the ALC 2023 Guidelines, 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 of our residents have replaced those low-light fixtures with open, bright fixtures and high luminosity bulbs and could be subject to SaddleBrooke ALC attention.
Although we have relatively good night skies here in SaddleBrooke, 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. Below is a short video source that 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.
Think that light pollution is a new topic and one that has not yet been sufficiently researched? Go to the website below to see just how much research has been accomplished over the years. Feel free to open any paper listed … happy reading!
If interested in the SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club, information can be obtained by emailing David Evans at [email protected] or the International Dark Sky Association by emailing Sam Miller at [email protected].