The Flagstaff Solution

This is what success looks like. Calibrated sky brightness measurement of Flagstaff Arizona and Cheyenne Wyoming. See this story.

What is The Flagstaff Solution?


FDSC was founded in 1999 with the mission To Celebrate, Promote and Protect the Glorious Dark Skies of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona. Our primary efforts have always been to raise awareness about the value and importance of dark skies through Celebration – we have created the art exhibit NightVisions, and the Flagstaff Star Party, and other outreach to raise community-wide awareness of the value of night skies and night sky protection.

FDSC increasingly recognizes that Flagstaff has achieved something unique: effective dark sky protection, proven by measurement. A measurement in 2016, and reported in the Arizona Daily Sun, showed that the Flagstaff light dome is about 90% fainter than that of similarly-sized Cheyenne Wyoming.

A protected Night Sky
A protected Night Sky

Why is this important?

Despite nearly 40 years’ efforts by dark sky advocacy organizations, accumulating evidence shows that light pollution continues to increase essentially everywhere (see Stars could be invisible within 20 years as light pollution brightens night skies The Guardian, Robin McKie, 27 May 2023). Flagstaff’s success has proven that increasing light pollution is not inevitable, even in the face of continued development. If other communities could take advantage of Flagstaff’s experience, it is clear that even with continued population growth, light pollution tomorrow can still be dramatically less than it is today.

Too few are aware of this positive message. With The Flagstaff Solution (TFS) project, FDSC is endeavoring to make Flagstaff’s experience more accessible and understood. TFS will clearly define what Flagstaff has done, and provide guidance on how other communities can take advantage of what we have learned.

What is TFS?

We will list and describe the essential elements of the components underlying Flagstaff’s success, including not only the lighting codes, but also planning policies, design and engineering guidelines of agencies not covered by the lighting codes, community education and engagement, etc. Where possible, we will quantify how much benefit can be obtained, in terms of decreased visual sky brightness, or other relevant measures.

How can other communities use TFS?

By simply presenting, in detail, the multiple interdependent elements underlying Flagstaff’s successful night sky protection, other communities can pursue more informed strategies to protect their own night skies. Further, by underscoring crucial aspects which are not commonly or clearly described by the most well-known light pollution authorities, the most common failures can be recognized and avoided.

Bookmark this page, and stay tuned for updates! If you are passionate about the value of star-filled skies and a natural night, and want to help FDSC produce effective guidance to restore the night, consider donating or becoming a member! We welcome members from anywhere, across the U.S. and around the world. We plan to have the initial documents describing in detail “What is TFS” posted before summer of 2024!

To celebrate, promote, and protect the glorious dark skies of Flagstaff and northern Arizona.