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  • Writer's pictureMH Professional Eng.

Preserving The Night Sky

If cities, towns, and villages were to turn off all their street lamps and car headlights, a clear night sky would look something like this:

Most of us living in urban and even many suburban areas aren’t able to enjoy starry nights like these; the sky is white-washed by light pollution.

Of course, artificial lighting has its place from a safety perspective, but over the last few decades, awareness about light pollution has turned into a movement that is gaining ground in many areas as municipalities try to take back their night skies.

The concept of dark sky compliance and the movement to reduce light pollution began gaining traction in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the founding of The International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit organization dedicated to combating light pollution and promoting dark skies.

The IDA played a significant role in raising awareness about light pollution and advocating for dark sky preservation. They developed guidelines and standards for dark sky compliance, promoted responsible outdoor lighting practices, and worked with communities, businesses, and governments to implement dark sky-friendly policies. Measures include using lighting fixtures and techniques that reduce glare, direct light downward, and minimize unnecessary or excessive lighting.

Over the years, the dark sky movement has gained momentum worldwide, with more communities, organizations, and individuals recognizing the importance of preserving dark skies. Today, many cities, towns, and regions have adopted dark sky ordinances and regulations, and there is increasing emphasis on designing and installing lighting systems that comply with dark sky principles.

Here are a few reasons why advocating for dark skies is imperative.

- Preservation of the Night Sky: This needs no explanation. Dark sky compliance helps preserve the beauty and wonder of the night sky.

- Energy Conservation: Light pollution wastes a significant amount of energy. Unnecessary or poorly directed lighting results in the inefficient use of electricity and contributes to carbon emissions. Dark sky compliant lighting fixtures focus light where it is needed, reducing energy consumption and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This helps conserve resources and promotes sustainability.

- Environmental Impact: Artificial lighting that is not properly shielded or directed can have adverse effects on the environment. Light pollution disrupts natural ecosystems, especially nocturnal animals and their habitats. It can disrupt migration patterns, breeding behaviors, and feeding cycles, affecting both plants and animals. Dark sky compliance minimizes these impacts and fosters ecological balance.

- Human Health and Well-being: Excessive artificial light at night can negatively affect human health and well-being. It disrupts natural sleep patterns, suppresses the production of melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep), and can contribute to various health issues, such as insomnia, fatigue, and mood disorders. Dark sky compliance reduces unnecessary light exposure at night, promoting healthier sleep and overall well-being.

- Economic Benefits: Embracing dark sky compliance can have positive economic impacts. Communities that prioritize dark skies can attract tourists and stargazers interested in experiencing pristine night skies.

So, what can you do to help protect our night skies? The good news is we can all play a part.

  • Use Shielded Fixtures: Outdoor lighting fixtures should be designed with shielding to direct light downward and minimize the amount of light that is emitted upward or horizontally.

  • Reduce Light Intensity: The amount of light used should be appropriate for the intended purpose, avoiding excessive brightness that can spill over into the sky.

  • Proper Lighting Design: Careful planning and placement of lights can ensure that they illuminate only the desired areas and avoid unnecessary scattering of light.

  • Use Motion Sensors or Timers: Implementing motion sensors or timers in outdoor lighting systems can ensure that lights are only activated when needed, minimizing unnecessary illumination.

  • Choosing The Right Light Bulbs: Selecting energy-efficient bulbs with appropriate color temperature and reduced blue light emissions can help reduce light pollution.

By complying with dark sky standards and adopting these measures, communities can help preserve the beauty of the night sky, reduce energy waste, and protect the natural habitat of nocturnal animals.


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