Wednesday, December 21, 2022

'tis the season for . . . light pollution?!

 We have come to associate excessive holiday lighting with the garish participants in "tacky light tours" every December.  But a winery in western Loudoun County has a new twist - a "lighting of the vines" that blasts the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains with sprawling glare visible from several miles away. 

"Agritourism" is supposed to help rural places stay rural, but in this case it has become an excuse to destroy the nighttime character of countryside that residents have been fighting for decades to keep country. According to publicity, 10,000 vines are lined with 15,000 lights . . . intensely bright white lights. And it is the intensity--and density--of this lighting that make it harmful. The lights are too bright, blue-white, and numerous over too large an area.  Unfortunately, exemptions in poorly written outdoor lighting ordinances allow for this kind of abuse of 'holiday (or seasonal) lighting' that otherwise should warm our hearts, rather than blind our eyes and despoil rural nightscapes. 

Loudoun County marketing seems a little bit ambivalent about the lighting, simultaneously bragging that the blazing vineyard can be seen for miles (note: visibility for miles is a checkbox for light pollution) while admitting it looks like something from a 'sci-fi movie', yet then praising the "glorious golden glow". Christmas Lights & Holiday Events in Loudoun County, VA 2022 (

Does this look like a "glorious golden glow" to you?  Is it seasonal or spiritual? Or just visible from space?

If you want to contact Bluemont Vineyard to encourage them to tone down their 'holiday lighting' next year, you can reach them here. Fewer lights of warmer color and lower lumens for shorter periods of time would make a big difference. 

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Light Pollution Does Not Respect County Boundaries

Hundreds of acres in Culpeper County have fallen to bulldozers to make way for hundreds of big unaffordable houses plus commercial development.  The latest incursion of suburban sprawl into the once rural northern Piedmont threatens Rappahannock's efforts to steward its night skies. Rappahannock’s dark sky protectors worry as development marches west | News |

Fairfax County to Improve Lighting Regs for Proposed DSP

 Fairfax County zoning staff are drafting a new ordinance to create a lighting overlay district for a county park that has been pursuing an Urban Dark Sky Park designation.  This article highlights community disputes over lighting requirements, but it leaves out a critical aspect of the "property rights" argument: the right of residents to not have light trespass and glare inflicted on them by neighbors.  Everyone has the right to light their own property--not someone else's.  The negative impact of neighbor's excessive outdoor lighting on quality of life is the number one reason Virginians contact our chapter.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Virginia Honors International Dark Sky Week with Proclamations

Several Virginia localities and the office of the governor issued proclamations recognizing International Dark Sky Week 2022 thanks to the efforts of a Virginia IDA member: 


Commonwealth of Virginia

Town of Ashland

Fairfax County

Town of Vienna

Also, the cities of Lexington and Falls Church!