Harmony is a Dark Sky City
In 2009, Harmony was recognized by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as the world's first Dark Sky Development of Distinction (press release). The Dark Sky Development of Distinction Award promotes subdivisions, master planned communities, and unincorporated townships whose planning actively promotes a more natural night sky.
Harmony's controlled street and home lighting allows the Milky Way to be seen over Schoolhouse Rd. in this timed exposure.
Lighting Options in Harmony?
To the maximum extent possible, lighting should be low intensity and conform to "dark sky" standards of downward projected, "full cut-off" illumination that shields light from being emitted upwards toward the night sky or surrounding natural areas. To be full cut-off, the light bulb should not extend below the lamp shade.
The most recognizable effort toward lighting control is in Harmony's street and home lighting. Since 2003, the Orlando Utilities Commission has installed and maintains more than 700 Holophane Hallbrook 100-Watt high pressure sodium light fixtures in Harmony. The fixtures provide the optimal amount of light needed for safety without projecting light upward (see illustration).
Residential lighting is also shielded, and outdoor fixtures are fully shielded or are recessed into porch ceilings. The Osceola County School District has been a strong partner in Harmony's lighting program, providing shields on its football stadium lights and controlling outdoor lighting on both the Harmony High School and Harmony Community School campuses.
Dark Sky Festival at Harmony
We're so proud of our Dark Sky efforts that each year we celebrate the natural night sky with a public Dark Sky Festival. This is an event that calls attention to the importance of protecting the night sky through educational presentations, telescope sky observing, music, games, food, exhibits and general fun held outdoors under the night sky. Get more information about the annual Dark Sky Festival at Harmony. Participating astronomical organizations include the Brevard Astronomical Society, Central Florida Astronomical Society, NASA and many more.
Saving Wildlife through Lighting
Light pollution—the luminous orange glow that haloes cities and suburbs—threatens wildlife by disrupting biological rhythms and otherwise interfering with the behavior of nocturnal animals, new research shows. Now a movement is under way to turn off the lights, or at least turn them down, for the sake of all creatures that frequent the night.
Birds at Risk: Artificial lighting seems to be taking the largest toll on bird populations. Nocturnal birds use the moon and stars for navigation during their bi-annual migrations. "When they fly through a brightly-lit area, they become disoriented," said Michael Mesure, executive director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a Toronto-based environmental organization. The birds often crash into brilliantly-lit broadcast towers or buildings, or circle them until they drop from exhaustion. "Over 450 bird species that migrate at night across North America are susceptible to collisions with night-lit towers, including threatened or endangered species like the cerulean warbler and Henslow's sparrow," Mesure said.
"Night Lighting May Affect Urban Birds" Audubon Magazine
Reptiles at Risk: Light pollution also endangers sea turtles. Beaches in sections of Florida's highly developed coastline are nesting ground for rare loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Bright lights nearby discourage females from coming ashore to nest. Newly hatched turtles need a dark night sky to orient themselves toward the sea, but artificial lights behind beaches lure them away. To avoid predators, some animals—like some snakes, salamanders or frogs—restrict their movements under brightly lit conditions.