Dark Matters: Capturing ‘A Night in Flagstaff,’ Connecting to the Universe

By Bonnie Stevens

Research tells us that feeling connected to one another is an important human need that can lower anxiety and depression, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems. Even through a pandemic, quarantines and shutdowns, the universe offers incredible therapy for all of us to get our dose of connectivity – across time, space, generations and cultures.

In the first International Dark Sky City, Flagstaff offers glorious dark starry skies that deliver dramatic views of the Milky Way stretching across the night and twinkling star patterns that have inspired stargazers since humans have enjoyed storytelling, so forever, really.

And now, through a unique collaboration between the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, a nonprofit organization, and Discover Flagstaff, we have the opportunity to capture “A Night in Flagstaff” through non-fungible tokens: 70 images for $700 each from 7,000 feet. This effort coincides with the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower, helps launch Dark-Sky Week, as proclaimed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and makes Flagstaff the first and only destination in the United States to enter the NFT market!

In addition, “A Night in Flagstaff” presents a fabulous opportunity to lose ourselves in the star-studded canvas of the night sky over the majestic San Francisco Mountain, to search for planets, satellites and constellations and share the moment with grandchildren, teens, professionals and grandparents. The night sky truly is the great connector and equalizer, helping us to feel humbled, awed and part of something magnificently bigger than ourselves that requires no age limit or special expertise to enjoy.

As Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition member William Seven has stated, “Since the dawn of modern humans, our ancestors have shared the skies as a common bond beyond the genetic link that makes us all one planetary people. Every culture on our planet looked to the heavens as a wellspring of enlightenment to create culture, society and spatiality. The sacred sky is a planetwide cultural treasure that must be respected, protected and preserved.”

Thus, celebrating, promoting and protecting the dark sky is the Coalition’s quest. And, proceeds from the sale of the NFTs will help carry out that mission by supporting the Northern Arizona EONS (Eyes on Night Skies) research program, which measures and monitors sky brightness. This information helps Flagstaff and other cities and communities understand where they are on the brightness scale and how they can maintain or return to the dark.

The Coalition offers these five ways to celebrate dark skies:

  1. Own “A Night in Flagstaff” NFT
  2. Visit NightVisions, May 21 – Aug 27, an exhibition at the Coconino Center for the Arts
  3. Use dark-skies friendly lighting
  4. Become a Coalition member
  5. And, keep looking up because, “Gazing up in perfect silence at our dark, star-filled sky inspires awe and a sense of belonging in the immense and beautiful universe around us,” said astronomer and Coalition President Chris Luginbuhl.

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About the Author

Bonnie Stevens

Bonnie Stevens is the executive director of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition. She also is the host of Zonie Living: Business, Adventure and Leadership, featuring “Dark Skies Champions Leading a way to a Dark Future” https://starworldwidenetworks.com/episodes/dark-skies-champions-leading-the-way-to-a-darker-future-video