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Southern Utah Town Internationally Recognized As Dark Sky Community

Milky Way Galaxy as seen at night
Serge Brunier


To earn the designation as an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association, residents in Torrey implemented lighting ordinances, replaced outdoor street bulbs and coordinated public education about the benefits of having a dark sky.

“The problem with LED lights is that many of them are really blue-rich lights, and that’s a really unhealthy type of light, and that’s why they want you to put in warm color lights," said Mary Bedingfield-Smith, a resident of Torrey, a small community just outside Capitol Reef National Park. "So the lower the temperature the warmer the light.” 

Bedingfield-Smith helped educate residents there about blue-rich lighting, which contributes to outdoor light pollution. While looking for ways to replace existing streetlights, she came across the Dark Sky community designations program. 

“I started looking at the International Dark Sky Association website and the national park Capitol Reef had just received their designation as a gold tier park and I saw that there was such a thing as International Dark Sky Communities and I started looking at the requirements and I said I think Torrey is close to already meeting all the requirements,” she said.

Bedingfield-Smith advocates the designation not only improves conditions for residents, but also puts Torrey on the map for tourists looking for spectacular night sky viewing.

“The changes that Torrey made to its lighting have resulted in better visibility at night,” said John Barentine, director of Conservation for the Dark Sky Association. "They stand as a really important example of this to other communities that might want to pursue the same kind of designation to show that you can do it, you can do it in a way that’s going to save you money, it’s going to improve conditions at night in your town and it’s going to draw more tourists if you’re in a part of the country where Astrotourism is important.”

Residents in Torrey will celebrate the town's International Dark Sky designation in October.

Find more information on the International Dark Association here.