Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dark Sky Movement has Virginia Roots

Over 40 years ago Lexington native Kurt Riegel  published in Science a seminal paper on light pollution, its impact to astronomy, and measures for limiting its expansion.  You can reach a PDF of the paper here.  Through its publishing Riegel connected with astronomer David Crawford who went on to co-found the International Dark-Sky Association in 1988.  Had leaders and communities heeded Riegel's recommendations with local, state, and national policies and practices, chances are the Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness would look very different..

Alleghany Highlands May Pioneer Virginia Dark-Sky Tourism

In October, the Valley Conservation Council sponsored a Dark-Sky Summit at Douthat State Park in Bath County, hosting 30 local leaders from the Alleghany-Highland region to discuss the potential for becoming a dark-sky destination and joining the ranks of astro-tourism locations throughout the world.
Op/ed coverage of this watershed event:

Roanoke Times Editorial "Virginia's Dark Sky Country"
Virginia IDA's Laura Greenleaf in response.

Roanoke Times Editorial Dark Skies on "Christmas Wish List"
In response, local resident points out that pointlessly overlit highway exits contradict dark sky goal.

Friday, October 30, 2015

NY DOT Ignores Best Practices for LED, Installs Glaring Streetlights

Brooklynites are pushing back at the city for giving their neighborhoods that prison-yard feel and intruding on their homes with the bright blue light of 4,000 Kelvin LED streetlights. For several years research and experience have been pointing toward prevention of the worst outcomes of misguided LED adoption.  A year ago IDA revised the Color Correlated Temperature standard for their Fixture Seal of Approval program to 3,200 Kelvin.  Former IDA executive director Bob Parks met with the NY DOT and Mayor's office to urge them to use lower CCT lights and smart controls, but they didn't heed his advice or best practices.  Read Lionel Shriver's recent OpEd piece urging the city to make it right.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The End of Night is 2015 One Book, One Community selection

The Handley Regional Library System in Winchester has chosen Paul Bogard's The End of Night as their selection for One Book, One Community 2015 with a series of events unfolding in September. Check out the calendar here

It's Official: Virginia is home to 25th International Dark Sky Park!

Congratulations Staunton River State Park and Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society!  Nothing demonstrates the momentum in The Old Dominion for night sky conservation like the incredible achievement of having a state park certified as a dark sky place.  The Richmond Times Dispatch reprinted this article from the Danville Register and Bee. 

Summer update from Va. IDA

[The following e-mail was sent to Virginia IDA members and supporters in June]

2015 already has been an unprecedented year for the Virginia chapter of IDA with more concern for Virginia's night and its skies than ever.  Laura Graham and I have been busy responding to "SOS calls" and requests for presentations, event displays, and support for Virginia's first proposed Dark Sky Place.   We've assisted local advocates, delivered several presentations (with more on the schedule), and soon we'll know if Staunton River State Park in southside Virginia will be the next Dark Sky Park!  Check out this and other news:

1) Events 
2) News Williamsburg lights up; Staunton River State Park  turns them down (and out); City of Staunton celebrates the night for Earth Day
3) Member recognition


  •  Paul Bogard's "The End of Night" is Handley Library's 2015 One Book, One Community selection. Paul will be speaking at Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester on September 23rd so if you are local to the northern Shenandoah Valley please mark your calendar! 
  • upcoming presentations by Va. IDA
       Saturday, July 11th   Bryan Park Nature Center, Richmond, VA  10:30 a.m. - noon.  Visit Nature Center schedule and scroll down for details.
        Monday, July 13th     Shenandoah Astronomical Society, Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown, VA

        Saturday, July 25th    Potomac Audubon Society, Kearneysville, WV  10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. For details, visit here.

        Thursday, September 17th Blandy Experimental Farm (State Arboretum of Virginia), Boyce, VA  7:00 p.m.   This is part of the One Book, One Community series of events. Details later.

(earlier 2015 presentations included:  Newtown Historic District Neighborhood Association Winter Social, Staunton; Star Party hosted by Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society at Staunton River State Park; and Richmond Astronomical Society)


Colonial Williamsbur
g to uplight historic buildings
In April the Williamsburg Architectural Review Board approved Colonial Williamsburg's proposal to use uplighting on eight historic buildings.  Va. IDA provided support to a long-time IDA member who consistently advocated for dark-sky best practices.  While Va. IDA was and is opposed to uplighting of historic buildings, the thorough, articulate, and respectful participation in the public comment process did result in a curfew and a Color Correlated Temperature limit below 3,000K.  Read  local coverage of the decision here.  An article in a different online publication gave more attention to our concerns, but is no longer available.   Va. IDA's Williamsburg presence will continue to monitor the implementation of the illumination.

Staunton River State Park applies for Dark Sky Park certification
When the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society was looking for an accessible dark sky location for observation gatherings and Star Parties they crossed the North Carolina border to Virginia's Staunton River State Park and became our most determined and effective advocates for night sky conservation and responsible outdoor lighting.  Over the past several years they've forged a strong bond with the park's staff and the surrounding communities.  The partnership evolved into a plan to create an IDA-certified Dark Sky Park in Virginia.   Read about Staunton River's bid for Dark Sky Place status here

Staunton (Shenandoah Valley) Makes Earth Day All About the Night
And further west the city of Staunton made Starry Nights the theme of its Earth Day celebration.  The Earth Day committee also gave public recognition to members of the community that have employed shielded fixtures.

A big thank you to  Sue Mayes and Barbara Fore of Henrico County for providing us with a dozen or more copies of IDA's Fighting Light Pollution: Smart Solutions for Individuals and Communities.  We use these as door prizes at presentations and to provide free to new advocates grappling with light pollution problems in their neighborhoods and communities.   Thank you!


Laura Greenleaf
co-leader, Va. chapter of the International Dark Sky Association
renew your membership or join IDA 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Uplighting Colonial Williamsburg

Last night the local Architectural Review Board approved a plan to uplight eight historic buildings in Colonial Williamsburg with LED fixtures. Unfortunately this decision came too quickly to get IDA's evaluation of the final plans.  An IDA member in Williamsburg worked diligently for months to provide input on this decision and possibly prevent the uplighting altogether.  In the end officials made important concessions and gave attention to issues of Color Correlated Temperature and output intensity.   You can read more here including my comment at the end of the article (click on the comment bubble icon if comments are not visible).