Last week, astronomy enthusiasts Creighton Wood, Bob Grossman and Val Szwarc had much to celebrate. Their three-year mission of putting Norwood on the map as an International Dark-Sky Association community was complete. Now, Norwood is on a worldwide list of destinations ideal for viewing the solar system. The implications, they said, could mean big things for the future.
Wood said being certified by IDA involved meeting the criteria for several categories. He said the biggest was putting into place the town’s ordinances in land use codes. That means Norwood has established requirements for new exterior lighting which follows the IDA rules.
He also said meeting the light measurement requirements must continue. Norwood must maintain its dark night sky to remain certified, and that data must be recorded and reported annually.
Officials at IDA have congratulated the Norwood group for their diligence in the application process.
“Norwood's policies and community actions will help to protect and preserve the region's incredible night skies for years to come,” Adam Dalton, IDA places director, told the Norwood group over the weekend in an email. “Further, I would like to thank the Norwood Dark-Sky advocates for their tireless efforts. Without them, this project would likely have not been possible.”
When Wood got the news, he quickly contacted the Norwood Chamber of Commerce. He said the town’s signage should now reflect the IDA status and that all should be aware that increased travel to Norwood could soon begin.
Wood knows representatives from Westcliffe that got their town IDA certified. They said their bed and breakfast places, inns and other hotels have seen an uptick in visitors since. That’s because, Wood said, people travel from all over the world to visit IDA locations. They want to observe the night sky in a prime viewing location.
The IDA maintains a website and blog. Wood said the Dark-Sky officials are beginning to post information about Norwood now.
He said he thanks many people in the community for support in going for the Dark-Sky status. The key players will definitely have a toast, and mostly likely a bigger dinner or gathering to honor Norwood’s status. He said he will let the public know about an upcoming celebration.
According to him, Szwarc played a leading role in gathering the light measurement data that made the certification possible. Gretchen Wells, he said, helped initiate the process in its beginning stages. Andrew Kauffman provided service on the board, and Brady Barkemeyer, continues to maintain the Norwood group’s website.
Now, Wood is in the final push to complete an observatory on his property. He will announce the opening of the viewing station when it’s ready, he said.
In the future, the Norwood Dark-Sky Group wants to focus on Dark-Sky education, in the schools and in the local community, and in surrounding places.
Already, Wood has heard from other local communities, like Ridgway and Naturita, which are interested in following suit and obtaining Dark-Sky status. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service, led by Norwood Ranger Matt Zumstein, is also working to get the designation for the Thunder Trails area, Wood added.
Wood said there could be a band of IDA locations that stretches from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to the Grand Canyon area.
“That would be a great thing to see … a band of dark sky sites,” he said.