International Dark Sky Community
Creighton “Woody” Wood
Norwood is a small rural town on Wright’s Mesa at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) in San Miguel County, in southwest Colorado at Latitude 38°07′52″N, Longitude 108°17′29″W. Its high desert climate and very dry conditions create many days and nights with clear skies. Norwood’s remote location and sparse population (518) produces very little light pollution. It is surrounded by mountains and plateaus that shield it from the few, distant urban light sources.
Norwood’s commercial district consists of one hardware store, one small chain grocery store, a locally-owned food outlet for local farms, three churches, many small businesses, one bank, and four restaurants. It has an award-winning medical/dental clinic, an excellent volunteer fire department and emergency medical service. Norwood has the following educational resources: a pre-school/daycare; one public school grades K through 12; a new 4.3 million-dollar library and community meeting space that is currently under construction; and a weekly newspaper (The Norwood Post). Norwood is the location of San Miguel County Fairgrounds, the center for several regional events.
The exquisite darkness of Norwood’s nighttime is a source of pride. The darkness has been proven by the Norwood Dark Sky Advocates Sky Quality Meter (SQM) project that helped secure its designation as an International Dark Sky Community. Noting that 22.00 units is the darkest limit of the Unihedron SQM instrument, the area-averaged, annual value for all observation is 21.43 with a Standard Deviation of 0.20, and a range between 20.64 and 21.95.
To quote David Elmore, Astronomer Emeritus, National Solar Observatory and Board Member of the Longmont (Colorado) Astronomical Society, “My visit to Norwood was the first time I witnessed a sky that is so dark clouds are black against the stars. … It was possible for me to easily view the Milky Way from within Norwood itself”
Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for viewing the night sky in Norwood, CO (38.12754, -108.53806). Don’t forget to plan your trip during the new moon and astronomical twilight to enhance the viewing experience!