A Protected Night Sky Over Flagstaff
This sky is protected. Yesterday marked the 50 year anniversary of the first
lighting ordinance ever enacted, which restricted searchlight advertisements
from sweeping the night skies above Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. Flagstaff now
enjoys the status of being the first International Dark Sky City, and maintains
a lighting code that limits lights from polluting this majestic nighttime view.
The current dark skies over Flagstaff not only enable local astronomers to decode
the universe but allow local sky enthusiasts to see and enjoy a tapestry contemplated
previously by every human generation. The above image, pointing just east of north,
was taken two weeks ago at 3 am from Fort Valley, only 10 kilometers from central
Flagstaff. Visible in the above spectacular panorama are the San Francisco Peaks
caped by a lenticular cloud. Far in the distance, the plane of the Milky Way
Galaxy arcs diagonally from the lower left to the upper right, highlighted by
the constellations of Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus. On the far right, the
North America Nebula is visible just under the very bright star Deneb.