Work in Progress: Flagstaff Dark Skies

  • Flagstaff, Arizona is the first International Dark Sky City. This designation, given by the International Dark Sky Association, identifies towns and cities “with exceptional commitment to and success in implementing the ideals of dark sky preservation and/or restoration, and their promotion through quality outdoor lighting.”
    The result is a nighttime landscape
    adorned by the unspoiled wonder of our starry universe.
  • As evening settles over Flagstaff, the deep blue of the Earth's shadow rises in the east. A blushing band known as the Belt of Venus hovers just above, announcing the coming of a night bursting with starlight.
  • First to emerge from the twilight: the brightest stars, Moon and planets—
    …followed by the gradual unveiling of the Milky Way and our celestial neighborhood.
  • Orion and the Winter Milky Way drift into view at Sunset Crater National Monument.
  • Cassiopeia adorns the Milky Way
    while the Andromeda Galaxy peers over her shoulder to the left.
  • The Pleiades and Hyades star clusters nudge
    a segment of Milky Way marbled by dark nebulae.
  • The combination of accessibility, clear weather, high altitude and dark sky standards have made the area surrounding Flagstaff an ideal location for professional astronomy.
  • Moonlight bathes the US Naval Observatory dome, just west of Flagstaff.
  • Situated on Anderson Mesa, southeast of Flagstaff, the LONEOS Dome surveys the sky for 'Near Earth Objects'—cataloging asteroids that could someday pose a hazard.
  • The clarity of Flagstaff's night sky is a boon to amateur astronomers as well. Some capture the views with astrophotography while others create detailed sketches of their observations.
  • Gauging proportions for a naked eye sketch of the Auriga Milky Way.
  • Sunset Crater Volcano anchors the setting Winter Milky Way.
    Observational sketches of several embedded deep sky objects surround the image.
  • For the hardy observer, only the coming of dawn brings an end to a full night of observing under exceptionally dark skies.
  • For more information about the International Dark Sky Association and what you can do to reduce light pollution in your community, visit: