Christian B. Luginbuhl is a Flagstaff astronomer, naturalist, amateur botanist and dark sky enthusiast. He is recently retired from the United States Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station, where he worked for over 30 years on a variety of photometric and astrometric projects. His early research was involved with star-forming regions, young stars, and transient phenomena such as gamma-ray bursters and optical transients. In later years he has published increasingly in the area of light pollution, presenting results at conferences both across the U.S. and internationally.
Chris remains involved heavily in light-pollution issues, seeking through his research to preserve the highest quality dark skies through an improved understanding of the nature and sources of light pollution, and even more importantly through education about the value of star-filled skies to everyone.
He is a founding member of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, a chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, and is also involved in science education, having served on the boards of the Arizona Natural History Association, the Flagstaff Festival of Science, and the International Dark-Sky Association. In his work with the FDSC, he has helped create the Celebration of the Night series of night-themed lectures, musical and dance performances, poetry readings, and the successful Night Visions fine art exhibition held five times since 2001 in collaboration with the Flagstaff Arts Council and the Coconino Center for the Arts. In 2014 he and FDSC founded the Flagstaff Star Party – Meet the Stars, an annual three-night event held in Buffalo Park which drew nearly 3,000 visitors in its second year.
The vision of a dark star-filled universe overhead inspired and inspires him still, continuing to drive his interest in astronomy and the preservation of dark skies.
Chris has spent thousands of hours under the night sky, peering through amateur-sized telescopes at the myriad wonders available under a dark sky. As a result of this extensive observation of the deep sky, and together with Brian Skiff (now at Lowell Observatory), he published the first comprehensive descriptive manual of “deep sky objects” (star clusters, gas clouds and galaxies) as viewed in small amateur telescopes, following in the footsteps of E. J. Hartung and his Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes. This book, “Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects” (Cambridge University Press, 1990) emphasizes careful and exacting visual descriptive notes of clusters, nebulae and galaxies, and has become a standard for the field.
He was a principal author of the innovative 1989 Coconino County and Flagstaff outdoor lighting codes, and continues to consult with many communities in Arizona and across the country on lighting issues and lighting codes. He is the principal author of the International Dark-Sky Association Outdoor Lighting Code Handbook.