Thursday, June 24, 2021
Celebrating that Twinkle in the Star
Sun Valley photographer Nils Ribi captured this photo of the Milky Way over the Smoky Mountains at the base of the Boulder Mountains.
Saturday, April 10, 2021



The City of Sun Valley updated its exterior lighting ordinance this week to help preserve the night sky within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve.

Council members also signed a proclamation celebrating April 5-12 as International Dark Sky Week.

“Whereas the aesthetic beauty and wonder of dark night skies are the heritage of all human kid, and

“Whereas the experience of standing beneath a dark night sky inspires feelings of wonder and awe, and may encourage interest in science and nature, especially among young people, and

“Whereas light pollution is artificial light that performs no function or task and goes where it is not supposed to go….

“We encourage all citizens to join us in implementing practices and lighting improvements that will reduce light pollution, thereby preserving our night skies,” said the proclamation signed by Mayor Peter Hendricks. For information about the updated ordinance see

The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, created in December 2017, encompasses 906,000 acres or 1,416 square miles and includes Sun Valley and Stanley and the Sawtooth National recreation Area. It was established as the first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States and remains the only Dark Sky Reserve in the United States.

It is one of 18 in the world.

  • We’re lucky in Idaho that many areas have spectacular views of the night sky. Only two out of 10 people on Earth can see the Milky Way,” said Carol Cole.

 The Reserve was established to:

  • Preserve and enhance the natural nighttime experience to improve quality-of-life.
  • Conserve our robust nocturnal ecosystems and support the needs of wildlife.
  • Enhance local scientific and educational opportunities through astronomy and other natural studies.
  • Promote our dark skies as a unique community asset and part of our local and national heritage
  • Highlight the economic benefits associated with dark sky compliant lighting—from energy savings to tourism revenue.

 Light pollution can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife and even the world’s climate.

 It’s caused by the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light—about 35 percent of outdoor light is wasted by unshielded lighting. This equals $3 billion worth of energy lost to wasted skyglow each year.

It can disrupt the migration patterns of birds that migrate or hunt at night navigating by moonlight and starlight. It can also disrupt nesting, foraging and other behaviors.

Preserve the night sky and you’ll have properties akin to Superman. That’s because, on a good night in the fall and winter when you see the Star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, you are seeing 19 quadrillion miles. And if you can see the Andromeda Galaxy with a pair of binoculars or a telescope, you’re seeing 15 quintillion miles!

While Central Idaho has the only Dark Sky Reserve in the United States, there are a number of Dark sky Parks. The International Dark Sky Association designated three new International Dark sky Parks in January: Jordanelle, Kodachrome Basin and Rockport.

That bring the total number of dark sky state parks in Utah to eight; Utah is home to 21 dark sky places, including its national parks, out of 90 around the world.


That twinkle, twinkle little star you might have sung about as a child was made possible by turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere that makes a star appear to twinkle or flicker.


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