The Beautiful Dark Sky of Sedona

Here’s something I’ve noticed: our culture is obsessed with over lighting everything. In most western cities (even the relatively small ones, like my hometown of Boise, Idaho) it is impossible to see more than a fraction of the normally visible stars in the night sky. It’s not only sad, it’s also unhealthy; “light pollution” as it’s called, causes confusion with wildlife and disrupts migratory patterns. It’s also the culprit for many human problems: insomnia and high stress levels to name just two. Check out a movie called A City Dark if you want more information on light pollution – I highly recommend it.

But I noticed right away that something was different about Sedona, Arizona, beyond its reputation as a metaphysical hotspot. Driving down the main roadway at night, it feels almost like a secret city nestled among beautiful red rock canyons. While still lit well enough for everything to be clear and feel safe, noticeably all street and building lights are pointed towards the ground and tinted a relaxed yellow color instead of the usual bright fluorescent. And if you look up… well, as Wind says, the night sky in Sedona looks like a planetarium. It’s breathtaking.

I did some research, and found that Sedona is seeking to be qualified as a “Dark Sky Community”.  According to the International Dark Sky Association:

International Dark Sky Community designees must adhere to stringent standards that protect the natural night sky through outdoor lighting plans and ensure the continuation of this protection through planning and zoning directives. (

Sedona has submitted the paperwork and will find out soon if they qualify (I’m sure they will.) Currently, the only other cities in the US that are on the official list are: Homer Glen, Illinois; Borrego Springs, CA; Dripping Springs, Texas; and their close neighbor to the north, Flagstaff, Arizona.

As part of an effort to educate the public about the importance of dark skies, each IDA designated Dark Sky Community must have two “dark sky awareness” events per year. If you are going to be visiting Sedona, check out one of these events! You can find them listed on the Keep Sedona Beautiful website.

You can also go on an Evening Sky Tour a stargazing tour through telescope, hosted by professional astronomers!


Have you been to Sedona? What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!



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