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Our Story

The Bisbee Dark Skies initiative was started by Bruce Syrett, astronomy enthusiast for 45 years. Bruce enjoys exploring the night skies and wants to make sure future generations can continue to as well. After realizing that Bisbee was so close to having this distinction because of the Cochise County lighting ordinance he decided to start an initiative to make Bisbee an official Dark Sky Community. He wants the community to realize what we have and to take steps to preserve it for future generations.

What is an IDA Dark Sky Community?

An International Dark-Sky Association Dark Sky Community is a town, city, or municipality that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of quality lighting codes, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies.


Benefits of Bisbee becoming a Dark Sky Community

  • Being identified as a community with an exceptional commitment to and success in pursuing dark sky preservation and restoration, and for promoting quality outdoor lighting


  • Attracting ecotourism and astrotourism 


  • Promoting the protection of human health, nocturnal habitats, public enjoyment of the night sky and its heritage, and/or areas ideal for professional and amateur astronomy


  • Local, national, and international recognition for Bisbee


  • Help promote the ideals of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) by encouraging other communities to identify dark skies as a valuable community asset and goal 


Achieving this designation brings recognition of the efforts made by the Bisbee council, the local government authorities (police, planning & zoning, etc.), the citizens, and any other public and private organization to protect the night sky and the environment dependent on it. This designation will enhance awareness of dark sky matters to all resident and visitors of Bisbee.


Designation as a Dark Sky Community entitles Bisbee to display the IDA Dark Sky Community logo in official publications, promotions, signs at the entrance or within Bisbee, and retain the use of the logo by other groups within Bisbee when identifying ourselves. It could be written, for example, "located in Bisbee, an IDA Dark Sky Community". IDA maintains a web page identifying and describing all the DSCs available on

Requirements for becoming a Dark Sky Community

1. A quality comprehensive lighting code (like the IDA/IES Model Lighting Ordinance with the following minimum standards for permanent lighting installations):


  •  Fully shielded or full-cutoff standard for all lighting fixtures over 1500 lumens


  • Establish a threshold of 3000 Kelvins for the allowable correlated color temperature of all lighting fixtures 


  • Restrictions on total amount of unshielded lighting, such as a limit on lumen per acre or total site lumens in unshielded fixtures (or equivalent wattages)


  • A policy to address over-lighting, such as energy density caps, lumen/acre caps, or maximum illuminance specifications


  • A provision that clearly: (1) indicated where, when, and under what circumstances new public outdoor lighting (street lighting and lighting on other public property and rights-of-way) is warranted and will be permitted, and (2) requires that adaptive controls and curfews be employed in all future installations of public outdoor lighting.



2. Community commitment to dark skies and quality lighting as shown by:


  • City owned lighting conforming with, or committed to conforming with, the lighting code (if the latter, a published plan with a timeline for completion in no more than 5 years)

  • Municipal support of dark skies and good lighting as indicated through city publications, flyers, public service announcements, funding of lighting upgrades, etc.


3. Broad Support for dark skies from a wide range of community organizations such as:


  • Chamber of Commerce

  • Local electrical utility

  • Local IDA Chapter

  • Lighting retailers

  • Home Owners Assocation

  • Business Improvement Associations

  • Others


4. Community commitment to dark skies and education as shown by at least one of the following:


  • Planning and execution of at least two community dark sky awareness events per year. This may be organized through a local astronomy club, municipality, school, etc.


  • Inclusion of dark sky awareness documents (IDA brochures or community-created brochures) with other community informational documents for residents and visitors


  • Inclusion of dark sky education in community schools and curriculum 

5. Success in light pollution control. At least one of the following conditions must be demonstrated:


  • Examples of a minimum of ten projects built under the lighting code, demonstrating effective application of the local lighting code

  • Alternative demonstration of success in light pollution control, to be discussed with IDA for compliance


5. A sky brightness measurement program must be maintained either by the community or by another public or private organization (university, research center, IDA chapter, astronomy club, etc.) to follow the evolution of light pollution in Bisbee.


6. Designation is permanent, but it is subject to regular review by IDA and possible revocation if minimum requirements are not maintained.


7. Periodic checks, through the submission of the annual report due October 1st, will be preformed to ensure that minimum standards and objectives of the program are being upheld and adequate progress is being made. This report is a short 1 to 2 page synopsis of the community's activities and initiatives throughout the last year.


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