WATERVILLE VALLEY, NH – With the town’s installation of nearly 50 “Dark Skies” streetlights, the future is looking bright for a new earth and sky observatory in Waterville Valley.
Working with New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC), town officials have overseen the replacement of conventional street lighting with new fixtures that will save money and reduce sky glare. That’s good news for the partnership between the Rey Center and the McAuliffe Planetarium, which is planning to build a permanent observatory in Waterville Valley.
The Rey Center honors the legacy of Margret and H.A. Rey, children's book author and illustrator of Curious George, Whiteblack the Penguin, and The Stars: A New Way to See Them. The Rey's were active members of the Waterville Valley community and well-known for their passions, particularly astronomy. The Rey Center will soon have a new and permanent home in Waterville Valley, from which stargazers will have an exceptional view of the heavens.
Like a growing number of New Hampshire towns, Waterville Valley has enacted a so-called Dark Skies ordinance to protect the nighttime sky. Under the ordinance, all new outdoor lighting must direct light downwards and not above the horizontal plane. The retrofit of the Co-op’s 30 streetlights in town and an additional dozen lights at Golden Eagle Lodge was designed and completed by NHEC using fixtures that feature “full cutoff” technology. As a result, says Town Manager Mark Decoteau, the town has lights that are more focused, use 30% less wattage and reduce the glare that can obscure the stars from the night sky.
“It’s been a very easy process,” Decoteau commented. “The Co-op and our town residents have been very supportive of the effort and the reasons for doing it.”
Waterville Valley is the first community in Co-op service territory to completely retrofit their outdoor lighting to Dark Skies technology.
“I commend the town of Waterville Valley and The Golden Eagle Lodge for taking the initiative to reduce the negative effects of outdoor lighting,” said Co-op Account Executive Bill Johnstone. “Their efforts will certainly have a positive impact in the community and I am pleased that the Co-op was able to play a role in making it happen.”
NHEC’s Outdoor Lighting Program uses only Dark Skies fixtures. To learn more about how the Co-op can help municipalities that are considering replacement lighting, contact Bill Johnstone at 536-8651, or firstname.lastname@example.org