Keep Our Night Skies Dark: How to Take Action in the Community

Third in a three part Dark Sky series

In the first article of our three part Dark Sky series, we defined light pollution and examined choices for exterior lighting that do not contribute to light trespass.

Last week in the second article of our three part Dark Sky series, we investigated the physiological impacts of exposure to light at night and ways to mitigate effects on circadian rhythm and immune system function.

The most successful way to keep our night skies dark or reduce skyglow in urban areas is by spreading the word, increasing awareness, and encouraging your community to adopt a model lighting ordinance that requires outdoor lighting fixtures to be Dark Sky compliant.

  • Start at home. Ensure that your own exterior lighting is Dark Sky compliant. Dark Sky compliant fixtures direct light to the ground, not the sky, and are shielded to minimize glare. Dark Sky does not mean dark ground!  A great visual summary can be found here and a residential lighting retrofit with comparative photos can be found here.
  • Talk to your neighbors.  If your neighbors have a bright light that’s intrusive, consider it a chance to increase awareness.  According to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), “Suggest a lower wattage, fully shielded light with a timer and/or motion sensor as a way to light property for security but with minimal effect on neighbors.” Need more ammunition? Here’s a great resource.
  • Get involved in the community by encouraging code officials to adopt a model lighting ordinance that requires new outdoor lighting to be Dark Sky compliant.  Begin with seeking out a contact in your community, preferably on the planning commission or town council.  Encourage the municipality to add a lighting ordinance that meets these guidelines.  A more thorough model lighting ordinance is being finalized by the IDA and is also a valuable resource.

Colorado is considered one of the most progressive states in enacting and enforcing lighting ordinances. Wondering if your community already has a lighting ordinance that discourages light trespass, and is enforceable (not just guidelines)?  Counties and municipalities near Denver with lighting ordinances (provisions vary) include:

  • Arapahoe County
  • Arvada
  • Aurora
  • Avon
  • Boulder County (excluding the Niwot rural community district)
  • Boulder
  • Castle Rock
  • Douglas County
  • Fort Collins
  • Frisco
  • Gilpin County
  • Jefferson County
  • Longmont
  • Monument
  • Pueblo County
  • Wheatridge

Links to the codes can be found here.


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