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Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition

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The Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition[1] (FDSC) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the natural darkness of the night sky in and around Flagstaff, Arizona. The coalition comprises a diverse group of individuals, including amateur and professional astronomers, business proprietors, local government representatives, and engaged citizens. With a mission to raise awareness regarding the significance of dark skies, the FDSC actively educates the public about the detrimental effects of light pollution. Moreover, the organization advocates for the adoption of responsible outdoor lighting practices and collaborates with local governments and businesses to establish policies and initiatives aimed at mitigating light pollution.

Organizational history and mission[edit]

Founded in 1999 by Lance Kane Diskan[2], the coalition works to protect and maintain the integrity of the night sky for the benefit of all members of the community, including amateur and professional astronomers, tourists, and local residents. The group aims to educate the public about the importance of dark skies, and to advocate for responsible lighting practices that minimize light pollution. The group works heavily on community organization to protect the dark skies for both Lowell Observatory and the US Naval Observatory Flagstaff station. The FDSC also provides significant technical expertise on lighting research and development, with notable successes including Flagstaff serving as one of the testing locations for novel lighting technologies, including astronomy-friendly LED streetlights.[3]

One of the main activities of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition is the promotion of the International Dark Sky Place (IDSP) program[4], under the International Dark-Sky Association. Flagstaff is the world's first International Dark Sky Place[5], gaining formal designation in 2001, and the coalition works to maintain this status by advocating for the use of low-glare, energy-efficient lighting that does not contribute to light pollution. This designation recognizes the community's commitment to preserving the dark skies above Flagstaff and encourages responsible lighting practices in the city.[6]

In addition to its work on lighting issues, the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition also hosts a variety of public events and educational programs, including annual stargazing parties, lectures, and workshops under the "Flagstaff Celebration of the Night" label. These events occur as part of the larger Flagstaff Festival of Science. These events provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the night sky and the importance of preserving dark skies. Additional the FDSC hosts community engagement events on the cultural aspects of the night sky, including a yearly series of art installations under the "NightVision" moniker.[7]

External partnerships[edit]

The Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition has become a model for other communities around the world that are seeking to preserve their dark skies.[8] Its success has inspired the creation of similar organizations in other locations, including the Tucson-based International Dark Sky Association, which was founded in 1988. This success has generated both positive environmental impacts, and significant economic activity in dark-sky focused communities, such as the construction of the $18 million International Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills, AZ[9].

Overall, the FDSC's work has been instrumental in preserving the natural beauty of Flagstaff's night sky, ensuring that future generations will be able to experience the wonder of the stars above.


  1. "Home - Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition". Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  2. "Interview with Lance Diskan, Dark Skies Coalition". The Lumberjack Jack Central. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  3. Johnson, Scott K. (2019-10-22). "How Flagstaff, Arizona, switched to LEDs without giving astronomers a headache". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  4. "Flagstaff, Arizona (U.S.)". International Dark-Sky Association. Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  5. "International Dark Sky Communities Flagstaff, Arizona (U.S.)". International Dark-Sky Association. 2023-01-07. Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  6. "International Dark Sky | City of Flagstaff Official Website". Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  7. Reporter, DIANDRA MARKGRAF Arts and Culture. "'NightVisions' brings another year of artistry for dark skies". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  8. "How Flagstaff's Solution To A Streetlight Problem Could Help Other Cities". KJZZ. 2019-11-01. Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  9. "Fountain Hills To Build $18 Million Dark Sky Discovery Center". KJZZ. 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2023-02-26.

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