Dark Sky NM

inviting you to enjoy and protect the New Mexico night sky

Measuring Light Pollution in NM

In the fight against light pollution, we in New Mexico are more fortunate than some. We live in a predominantly rural state, with wide open spaces and low population density—the sixth lowest in the U.S. But that means we have a lot to lose if we allow local light pollution to increase unchecked: this rural quality, these starry skies.

Plus, light pollution doesn't respect state or country borders. We need to be concerned about significant light domes over not only our own cities and towns, but also neighboring cities like El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.


NM Light Pollution Map by David Lorenz
Areas with worst light pollution: White (center of El Paso/Ciudad Juarez),
followed by Pale Gray (center of ABQ)


Capturing baseline data and monitoring light pollution over time are important strategies in any effort to hold the line. Dark Sky NM has launched an effort to compile existing night-sky survey data collected in New Mexico to date. Thereafter, we will explore opportunities to set up on-going night-sky monitoring stations. Sign up for our E-mail List to stay informed on this project.


All-sky survey image color-coded for sky brightness
(note the yellow and green light domes around horizon)
Courtesy of National Park Service


Tools for You
A few handy tools exist to help you assess the night sky at your favorite New Mexico sites. They include two websites and a measuring device.

Light Pollution Atlas 2006
Color-coded light pollution overlay on Google Maps, so you can zoom in on New Mexico and see place names

Clear Sky Charts in New Mexico
Cloud cover, transparency, and seeing forecasts for specified locations

Affordable Sky Quality Meter
Measure night sky brightness with this hand-held meter. Unihedron makes other sky quality meters with additional features.

Next Section: Good Lighting