Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Texas Trailblazes with Dark Sky Parks

Two Texas State Parks are the newest IDA certified Dark Sky Places (the town of Sedona, AZ made the list just last week thanks to the dedicated efforts of Keep Sedona Beautiful).  Improving on the parks' lighting to reduce glare and uplight (while saving energy and money) enhances the quality of star gazing and expands tourism for night sky programming and activities.  Even if you're not an amateur astronomer, who wants to travel to a state park to escape the suburbs or city only to have  bare floodlights or a dusk to dawn glarebomb despoiling your campsite or cabin?  Unfortunately this has been my experience in every overnight visit to a Virginia state park.  We have glorious parks with well-earned excellent reputations--so many options within reasonable reach of most parts of the state provide for recreation and respite. But too often the respite does not extend to intrusive artificial light at night.  Take it from Texas---curbing light pollution and valuing the natural resource of the night and its sky are good for business.
Learn more about IDA's Dark Places and the Texas State Parks Dark Sky Program.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Soccer fields lighting the latest threat to what remains of rural Loudoun County

John Flannery writes eloquently of what will be lost if Loudoun County installs sixteen 70 and 80 foot tall lighting towers on already elevated fields in a public park in his column "In the dark over lights" in a May edition of the Loudoun Times Mirror.
The star-flocked night sky I grew up under is not what it was because of light pollution from Loudoun County to the east and Winchester to the west.
Flannery rightly links the degradation of the night sky and nocturnal environment as a violation of one's home and property.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy defends Franklin Park

The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has written a letter to the county's Board of Supervisors opposing a proposal that would install 16 athletic field lights on a site with a 620 foot elevation in a public park.  You can read the letter here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Starry Nights Harrisonburg!

The last week of March (leading up to Earth Hour) The End of Night author and JMU professor Paul Bogard and JMU planetarium director Shanil Virani inaugurated Starry Nights Harrisonburg, a series of events to raise awareness of light pollution's wide ranging impacts and spur action to reverse the trend on campus, in Harrisonburg, and throughout the Shenandoah Valley.  IDA executive director Bob Parks was Wednesday's featured guest speaker and the following evening Virginia IDA chapter co-leader (and JMU alum) Laura Greenleaf delivered a presentation prior to a panel discussion on lighting and campus safety that included Wake Forest Police Chief Regina Larson and several JMU student advocates.  Chief Larson confirmed what research and experience continue to tell us:  lighting is not a stand alone crime deterrent, lighting can backfire and aid criminal activity, and overly bright, glaring, and poorly designed lighting is the enemy of good visibility.  You can read coverage of the event in JMU's The Breeze here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Light pollution's ongoing toll on migratory birds

This past Sunday the Washington Post magazine's cover story asked the question "Can the carnage caused by city skylines be stopped?"  We know that it most certainly can if we respond with political will and grassroots support for policies and practices that reverse our indiscriminate use of excessive, unnecessary, and poorly designed lighting.  Light pollution affects wildlife both as direct sources in their immediate environment and as skyglow that erases the celestial compass.  Volunteers with city "Lights Out" campaigns spend their early morning hours collecting the avian victims of our addiction to artificial light at night, providing crucial scientific documentation and data.   Read the Post magazine story here and learn more about the Fatal Light Awareness Project here.

Starry Nights Harrisonburg coming up!

Author (The End of Night) and JMU faculty member Paul Bogard and JMU planetarium director Shanil Virani have planned a week-long series of events:  Starry Nights Harrisonburg that will run from Monday, March 24th through Friday, March 28th and feature everything from night hikes and planetarium shows to panel discussions and a film competition.  IDA executive director Bob Parks is the featured speaker on Wednesday night and on Thursday Va. chapter co-leader (and JMU alum) Laura Greenleaf will provide a presentation and join in a panel discussion on campus lighting and safety.
The above link will also take you to media coverage on the week's events and the goal of an ongoing movement to reduce light pollution in the Shenandoah Valley.