Sedona and Big Park/Village of Oak Creek — 2 of the Original International Dark Sky Communities
There’s something to be said for having OG creds, and when it comes to preserving pristine views of the night skies, Sedona and the nearby Big Park/Village of Oak Creek (VOC) lead the way. The city was the sixth in the world to earn the prestigious designation of being an International Dark Sky Community, and the VOC joined the list at number 14.
What is an International Dark Sky Community, and why is it so vital to reduce light pollution? Discover more about yet another reason you’ll sleep more soundly on your Sedona getaway, even if you don’t exhaust yourself on a hike.
What Is an International Dark Sky Community?
According to the International Dark-Sky Association, an International Dark Sky Community is a town, city, or municipality that has shown exceptional dedication toward the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies.
To date, only around 30 locales have earned this certification, and several of them — including the nearby towns of Cottonwood and Camp Verde — lie within the Verde Valley. If you fly over us in a plane, you won’t see the signature glow emitted by other large city centers at 10,000 feet — and that’s just the way folks ’round these parts like it.
8 Reasons You Should Care About Light Pollution
What makes International Dark Sky Association certification so prestigious — and vital to human well-being and the ecosystem? Check out these eight impressive benefits.
1. Dark Skies Help You Sleep Soundly
If your doctor ever told you to keep your electronics out of the bedroom, they probably gave you a mini-lecture on how blue light disrupts your melatonin production. Of course, if you dwell in an urban landscape full of blinking neons, you probably didn’t need the 411 — only thicker blackout curtains.
The wavelength emitted by artificial lights mimics the one from El Sol responsible for making you a diurnal animal. Humans are biologically designed to be more active in the daytime, and your cells don’t differentiate between the sun and overhead fluorescents. Oodles of studies show the connection between blue light exposure and insomnia — dark skies help you get your Zzz’s.
2. Dark Skies Might Slash Your Cancer Risk
Does breast or prostate cancer run in your family? If so, you might want to start talking to your town about how you can join the “cool kids” by earning International Dark Sky certification, too.
A recent Spanish study published in Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that out of a group of 4,000 people, those exposed to the greatest amount of blue light during their normal sleep cycles had 1.5 times higher risk of developing breast cancer and doubled their chances of prostate cancer.
The relationship between the reproductive system and hormones makes sense if you think about it. Melatonin is also a hormone, and the blue light wavelength impacts its production. Disruptions in estrogen and testosterone level do impact your risk of these cancers.
3. Bright Lights Make Navigation Challenging for Those With Astigmatism
If you have astigmatism, you know I’m speaking sarcastically when I say, “Isn’t night-driving fun?” The contrast between the dark and light turns oncoming traffic into a kaleidoscope of overlapping star beams.
Astigmatism occurs when your cornea is shaped more like a football than a sphere. The contrast between the light and darkness makes the colors of neons seem to bleed into the surrounding air, impeding the vision of those with this condition. The softer the illumination, though, the less noticeable the distortion and clearer your sight.
4. Bright Lights Could Make You Less Safe
When people oppose dark sky initiatives, they often cite safety concerns. However, those bright nighttime lights intended to keep you safer could instead increase your risk of falling prey to crime.
Why? Anyone who has ever stepped from a brightly lit area to a dimmer one knows how blind they feel until their eyes adjust. Your pupils contract in the light, making it doubly dangerous to go from high-voltage street lights to a dark alley. Softer, more natural night lighting lets your eyes adjust gradually and doesn’t leave you robbed of your principle navigating sense — and perhaps your wallet — in the shadows.
5. Bright Lights Throw Off Migratory Birds
Imagine an airport without any air traffic controllers. If the prospect terrifies you, think about how migratory birds feel.
Most songbirds migrate at night, and to them, bright city lights look like beacons. However, much like airplanes without someone to guide them into port, they collide with others when their internal radar becomes confused. All too often, they die.
6. Bright Lights Harm Baby Sea Turtles
If you ever saw “Finding Nemo,” you know that sea turtles are totally awesome, dude. However, bright nighttime lights threaten their breeding patterns.
Nesting turtles seek quiet, dark places along the beach to lay their eggs. However, lights from beachside developments keep mothers from finding suitable places. It’s like what David Attenborough once said — animals have every right to be here, just like we do.
7. Bright Lights Contribute to Disappearing Fireflies
Did you love catching fireflies when you were a kid? It’s heartbreaking to think that this childhood rite of passage could disappear due to light pollution.
Both male and female fireflies use their flashing lights to communicate, but when light pollution interferes, they can’t get the message to mate. Some groups synchronize their flashes across populations of thousands of insects — meaning one brightly lit building invading their habitat can devastate local colonies.
8. Bright Lights Waste Money and Energy
If your childhood grown-ups used to yell at you to turn off the lights to save energy, think about how much electricity and money gets wasted keeping building lights on all night. I can almost hear my mama asking, “Jennifer, were you born in a barn?”
On a serious note, though, the planet is in crisis. We all owe it to Mother Earth to do what we can to reduce the impact of climate change. That includes not wasting fuel to keep closed businesses lit up at 3 a.m.
Sleep Soundly in Sedona — an International Dark Sky Community
As if you needed one more reason to visit Sedona — now you know you can enjoy unbeatable stargazing due to our International Dark Skies certification. It’s only one of the many reasons that make this area so magical and unlike any other place on earth.