A little piece of heaven! We bet you love living in the Capitol/Snowmass Creek Valleys
as much as we do! The Snowmass-Capitol Creek Caucus is an elected volunteer board of
Snowmass residents that has been working to preserve the natural beauty of our valley for
nearly 50 years. If you live or own property in our Caucus area, you are a member of the
Caucus. You can get involved in your neighborhood, and help us achieve our goals…one
of which is to preserve our dark skies.
We care very deeply about our dark starry night skies.
We are so lucky to be able to observe the Milky Way, planets, eclipses, comets, and phases of
the moon. More importantly, dark skies are needed for the proper functioning of natural ecosystems, including migration of birds, and safe passage of deer, elk, and other wildlife between pasture
and stream. Thus, in our Master Plan to guide the development in our valleys, we strongly
encourage minimal use of low-impact outdoor lighting. Lights that shine in all directions, the upward
lighting of trees, driveway lighting, and extended holiday lights are incompatible with Pitkin County’s
lighting code, as well as the Caucus Master Plan.
There are easy ways to achieve low-impact lighting. Please, take a moment to learn about the importance
of dark skies by visiting darksky.org. Also, please study Pitkin County’s lighting guidelines at: https://pitkincounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/28816/chapter-07 (County Code Chapter 7, Development Standards, 7-20-140, starting on page 101).
Turn off your lights, let your eyes adjust to the darkness, and enjoy the wondrous night skies of Snowmass!
Thank you! Your neighbors, The Snowmass-Capitol Creek Caucus Board
Our Spectacular Night Sky
By Judith Frey
Throughout human history until the last 100 years, the spectacular night sky was part of everyone's experience. We are fortunate that the Snowmass-Capitol Creek valley has some of the darkest skies in Colorado. In the Denver area, I encountered school children who had never seen the stars!
Successful stargazing depends on acclimating one's eyes to total darkness so that very faint objects can be seen with the naked eye. Ambient light prevents one's eyes from adjusting to the dark. It is my hope that all homeowners will shield outside lights so that they shine downward, where the light is needed, and not upward or in all directions. These first-hand experiences of the universe that we have in this valley are increasingly rare in our age.
The Pitkin County Land Use Code LUC 7.20.140 provides specific guidance on exterior lighting:
"Briefly, exterior lights must be shielded and/or directed so that the bulb is not visible from the property line."
I would also add that it is not necessary--or advisable from a stargazer's perspective--to illuminate the night sky! The Land Use Code goes into more detail and provides excellent examples of shielded lighting.
The Night Sky Through the Seasons
On New Year's Eve at midnight, the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, reaches its highest point in the heavens. Called the star's midnight culmination, this event happens once every year. Sirius is the bright star below and to the left of the constellation Orion.