Sunday, February 3, 2013

Help Fight Light Pollution

Hey SPace Placers!

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a REALLY dark sky free of light pollution? It is a sky that has literally thousands upon thousands of stars and the Milky Way pops out at you.

I have been lucky to see such skies while at sea a thousand miles from any light source. One night in the Indian Ocean the sky and sea blended into one and I was at the bow of the ship and it was like being surrounded by stars. That is what a glass smooth sea and gorgeous sky can give you.

My other great night sight was of all places in West Virginia at a place that boasts the "darkest skies east of the Mississippi" - and they are right. That particular night in the summer the Milky Way was bright, almost in a galactic was stunning.

Light pollution - night time light that washes out the sky as it is directed up into the sky instead of on the ground - is a waste of energy, money and a robbery in progress of our night skies. There have been studies done on light pollution and the numbers in terms of kilowatts and dollars and cents wasted is staggering.

Bad lighting also makes for dangerous driving and pedestrian conditions. Ever seen the shadows produced by bad lighting when walking late at night of the glare in your eyes when driving because of an errant lamp? There may also be an effect on nocturnal animals in their cycles as well as people.

You can help the cause against light pollution by participating in making observations of the night sky in your own backyard. "Globe at Night" is a multi-year program to collect star counts from around the world to get data on what the light pollution situation is. The directions are simple and you can submit your observations now through February 9th as we are in the second window of five different observing periods -  January 31st to February 9th, March 3rd to 12th, March 31st to April 9th, and April 29th to May 8th.

Get more details here and make an observation......

I will be doing so when the clouds clear here in Virginia. It is snowing and we have had quite a swing in weather here - 20's to 70's, rain and thunderstorms to snow showers.

Sky Guy in VA

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