Darkness illuminates the night

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A campfire, about three football fields away, lights pine trees beneath the Milky Way Sept. 20 at Mirror Lake, Utah. At an elevation of 10,050 feet in the Uinta Mountains about 75 miles east of Salt Lake City, in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, light pollution and other pollutants are minimal.  Courtesy Daniel Carde

A campfire, about three football fields away, lights pine trees beneath the Milky Way Sept. 20 at Mirror Lake, Utah. At an elevation of 10,050 feet in the Uinta Mountains about 75 miles east of Salt Lake City, in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, light pollution and other pollutants are minimal. Courtesy Daniel Carde

The constellation Orion and other stars Wednesday in Windcrest with the same equipment and settings used to capture the Milky Way in Utah. Light pollution and other pollutants cause the stars to be barely visible.  Daniel Carde

The constellation Orion and other stars Wednesday in Windcrest with the same equipment and settings used to capture the Milky Way in Utah. Light pollution and other pollutants cause the stars to be barely visible. Daniel Carde

The constellation Orion and other stars Wednesday in Windcrest, with different settings from the other two photos. Orion is seen early in the morning in August but is prominent in the night sky from November through February. The three stars in the middle of the constellation are called Orion’s Belt, and the orange star is named Betelgeuse.  Daniel Carde

The constellation Orion and other stars Wednesday in Windcrest, with different settings from the other two photos. Orion is seen early in the morning in August but is prominent in the night sky from November through February. The three stars in the middle of the constellation are called Orion’s Belt, and the orange star is named Betelgeuse. Daniel Carde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Association aims to reduce light pollution, preserve the majesty of the night sky.

By Juan Anthony Rodriguez

 Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

If you want to gaze at an extraordinary night sky, the closest place is Dripping Springs, about 90 minutes from San Antonio according to the International Dark-Sky Association.

Towns and cities across the globe are joining the Dark-Sky Movement, a collective effort of communities striving to reduce and eliminate light pollution and preserve the night sky.

The association is on a mission to protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.

The association defines light pollution as any adverse effect of artificial light, including light clutter and sky glow which is a result of fixtures that emit a portion of their light directly upward into the sky. The association defines “light trespass” when  poorly shielded fixtures cast light into unwanted areas.

Light pollution wastes energy, affects astronomers and scientists, disrupts global wildlife and ecological balance, and has been linked to negative consequences in human health.

The association website states the association was formed in 1988 as the authoritative voice on light pollution.

The website also offers information on lighting codes, light guidance for home and residential areas.

Fixtures with the association seal of approval are also included on the website, which lists distributors such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Green Earth Lighting.

The association educates lighting designers, manufacturers, technical committees, and the public about light pollution.

The association strives to educate communities by defining light pollution and its effects on the night sky.

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by light pollution; the ecosystem is also affected, which includes vegetation, insects and animals.

The association shows the harm of artificial lighting on the mating, migrations and predation behaviors of many species, creating domino effects on the surrounding ecological community.

The association does recognize cities that promote a community initiative to preserve the night sky.

Only eight communities have been recognized as International Dark-Sky Communities.

The group designees must adhere to stringent standards that protect the natural night sky through outdoor lighting plans and ensure the continuation of this protection through planning and zoning directives.

The six cities in the United States include Flagstaff, Ariz.; Dripping Springs; Borrego, Calif.; Beverly Shores, Ind.; Sedona, Ariz.; and Homer Glen, Ill.

The group was conceived in 2001 to recognize communities that had taken extraordinary steps in preserving the natural night.

For more information on the association, visit www.darksky.org.

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