dark sky florida
FLORIDA LIGHTS — This photo taken from space shows lights burning brightly at night across Florida. The Volusia County Council encourages us to be conscious of light pollution, especially during Dark Sky Week, April 15-22.

Whether you live in DeLand, Deltona, New York, Tokyo or Berlin, thousands of stars are visible in the night sky, all you have to do is look up.

Well, sort of.

There are factors that complicate looking up to see the stars, and one is light pollution. Unnecessary and overly bright artificial light — while it can be helpful at night — casts an unnatural glare on the night sky, rendering many stars impossible to see.

With that in mind, Volusia County will recognize Dark Sky Week April 15-22. During that time, everyone is encouraged to turn off lights they don’t need to have on, and take a look up at the night sky.

“… the beauty and wonder of the natural night sky is a shared heritage of all humankind, and the experience of standing beneath a starry night sky inspires feelings of wonder and awe, encouraging a growing interest in science and nature,” the county’s proclamation reads. “… 80 percent of the world’s population lives under a dome of light pollution — excessive artificial lighting at night that disrupts natural darkness.”

Dark Sky Week is an initiative started by the International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit focused on decreasing light pollution all over the world.

The closest chapter is in Orlando, but DeLandite Carole Gilbert is an avid supporter. She brought Dark Sky Week to the attention of the Volusia County Council.

Her interest in a darker sky began, Gilbert told The Beacon, when she came to realize that the night sky she has spent her whole life looking up at just wasn’t the same anymore.

“We moved to Deland about seven years ago in July, and there was a hurricane that October, and most of our neighborhood lost power,” Gilbert said. “The night after the hurricane passed, I went out and could see the constellation Orion very clearly, together with its nebula in the sword with only my eyes! That was when I realized how much of the night sky had slowly vanished due to light pollution.”

Light pollution might not appear as dramatic as air or water pollution, but its effects creep in more and more until just a handful of stars are visible over heavily lit areas. West Volusia’s light pollution isn’t nearly as dramatic as the pollution in big cities, but it’s important to be aware of it, Gilbert said.

“There’s certainly worse things than light pollution, but protecting the dark sky can contribute to your quality of life and save other creatures who depend on the dark for their lives,” she said. “The night sky doesn’t belong to anyone, it’s a human right to be able to look up and see the same magnificent dark sky our ancestors did.”


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