Editor, The Beacon:
When was the last time you looked up into the night sky? Were there as many stars as you remember seeing as a child? Artificial lighting has been edging out our ability to see the night sky for decades, often without us even being aware of the impact.
What is light pollution? Any artificial light that is not needed is a pollutant that has harmful consequences. Light pollution can disrupt wildlife, such as bird migration patterns and sea turtle hatchlings making their way to the ocean; impact human health, affecting our sleep and ability of our bodies to repair themselves; waste money and energy, as with unneeded outside lighting that shines directly up into the night sky; contribute to climate change; and block our view of the universe.
The four main types of light pollution are: Sky Glow: The brightness in the night sky caused by artificial lights over urban areas; Glare: Extreme brightness that can hurt your eyes, like seeing bright lights while driving; Clutter: Excessively bright and disorienting groups of light sources, as on lighted buildings, shopping districts, billboards; and Light Trespass: Light that extends into areas where it is not needed or wanted.
Since 1988, the International Dark-Sky Association (now Dark Sky) has promoted win-win solutions that both protect the night sky and offer choices of responsible lighting to greatly reduce light pollution.
To celebrate the dark sky and raise awareness of the consequences of light pollution, International Dark Sky Week is held in April during the week of the new moon, when the sky is darkest and the stars most visible. This year, IDA is inviting everyone to discover the night during the week of April 15-22.
Locally, our Volusia County Council joined in the effort to celebrate and protect our dark sky by proclamation, proclaiming April 15 to 22, 2023, as “International Dark Sky Week” in Volusia County and urging residents to enjoy the magnificence of the night sky! Well done!
All of us can take part in protecting the dark sky by spreading the word about International Dark Sky Week with family and friends on social media and becoming a dark sky advocate to intentionally take note of light pollution. But most importantly, by remembering to Just Look Up!
Carole J. Gilbert