For eighty percent of the world’s population, artificial light pollutes the night sky. In Oregon, a group of activists is busy restoring the view.
“Space was the wrong name. Old thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens — the heavens which declared the glory, ‘the happy climes that ly / Where day never shuts his eye / Up in the broad fields of the sky.’”
—C.S.Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
We had relatively dark skies over Martha’s Vineyard looking south over the Atlantic Ocean. A local photographer took spectacular time lapse photos of the Milky Way over the sea regularly. But a new wind farm is providing light pollution at the horizon. Whales are dying as well, most likely from the noise pollution they generate. So much for green BS.
As someone who grew up sleeping under the Milky Way, and now has not seen it for decades, I appreciated this article. I hope this will stimulate other communities to do the same. This past week I was up in the wee hours attempting to watch the Perseid meteor shower and was disappointed at the number of bright lights marring the view, even in my tiny, rural community. Raising awareness on this subject would definitely be worthwhile.
I am always interested in reading about the groups a caused that the Free Press reports on.
Yes, our ancestors looked at the skies but they also lived mostly in darkness once the sun went down.
I enjoy lights especially when walking the streets at night. I like having jobs and opportunity to live a good life.
Finally, I really don't want activists dictating how I live my life. If they want to do something on private property or create a park. Great! But leave the rest of us alone to live the way we choose.
"In Oregon, a group of activists" -- You lost me here.
Many years ago, while living on Sanibel Island in Florida, the city passed a Dark Sky ordinance. At first, people were upset, including me. We had several up-lighted trees around our canal home, and I had to change them to downlights. After compiling the new rule, I began to appreciate the idea. I remember, as a kid being able to see the stars at night, and that was getting harder to do these days. Unfortunately, Ft Myers is nearby, and their evening light pollution affects Sanibel. But I applaud the city for trying.
When we moved just south of Denver at 6000’ to Castle Rock, Co in 1997 we could see the Milky Way and different constellations at night. It was such a treat. Within 8 years two shopping centers with 24 hour lighting a couple miles away completely obscured the night splendor. The dramatic population growth came with mixed blessings, but the concept of dark sky sanctuaries is so brilliant and necessary. We just spent 3 days at the ocean soaking in the sound and sight of the pounding waves. It’s always spiritual and healing. Let’s retrieve the naked eye sight of the universe.
I love this idea! There’s so much beauty in the true night sky especially when we can see all the stars in their glory -- just like our earlier ancient humans who saw this view every night
I was lucky enough to sail across the Indian Ocean and the night skies were truly amazing. Would love to see a reduction in light pollution and suspect most of it is just stupid, mindless design and unnecessary eg street lights at midnight. (if you are out then, take a torch).
In ‘91 I went on Outward Bound in the Canyon lands. When they separated us for our solos I lay awake in my sleeping bag outside staring at the stars. I’d say, “May I have a shooting star please?” And it’d come right then. You could order them up like diner coffee. This is the first time I’ve ever wanted to go to Oregon. Get a little of that magic back.
There are things you can do in your own city and county to avoid light pollution. The easiest is a "downlight only" rule for exterior fixtures. It goes by different names, but the idea is that no fixture puts light above about 90 degrees from its illumination point. You still get reflected light from the ground, but it ends transmitted light which is most of the problem. Do this at a county level via the building code and a phased in grace period, and in 10 years you can see a whole lot more stars even in fairly densely populated areas.
When I was young, we didn’t have to travel too far outside of Nashville to see lots of stars. The last time I was there, you had to be about 30 miles away.
I would think that everyone interested in energy conservation would love this idea. Too many lights are on all night for no reason. Many are street lights, which is probably why my electric bill is padded with fees and taxes.
I wouldn't have a negative feeling about this idea if it weren't accompanied by moralizing and liberal idealogy. Why can't it just be presented as a fun, enjoyable experience? Every act of living now is turned into virtue signalling.
This is great, and something near and dear to my heart. There are places in Southern CA that have been dedicated to this effort for many decades, so the concept is hardly new. Check out the work done by the Mojave Desert Land Trust and Joshua Tree National Park. They were doing Star Parties at least 10 years ago! It’s an awesome quest, and I applaud anyone making the effort to drown out light pollution. Bravo!
A ruffed grouse hunter for nearly 50 years in far northern Wisconsin, I regularly found the fall night skies to be magnificently crowded with stars. It's truly a wonderful sight. One of our now-gone old guys used to say: "The stars are just closer to the earth up here."
We are doing the same thing with other sources of electromagnetic radiation: wifi, cell phones, Bluetooth, and lots of unintentional buzzes and hums from motors and computers and power supplies.
We are a noisy creature.