It is written, in the beginning… the earth was with darkness, but by the 20th century, urbanization and electrification of the world brought the dawn of light pollution that now threatens our night skies, ecosystems, health, astronomy, and our enjoyment of the stars. (Read about environmental consequences of night lighting in Daniel J. Rozell’s article, “Night Lights – Too Much of a Good Thing?“)
(Photo credit: NASA, NOAA, Earthlights, Wikimedia Commons)
We arrived in the Anza-Borrego Desert to celebrate the winter holidays and had just an hour to set up before we were enveloped by darkness and beautiful stars twinkling in the desert night sky. (Click on the image below)
Many winter festivals and holidays incorporate elements of light as part of the observances and celebrations. During the early evenings, we lit our outdoor Christmas tree that Larry made from homegrown bamboo.
It lit up the trailer as well, but not enough to obscure the stars.
While writing this post, I became aware of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit organization with the stated mission of “fighting to preserve the night”. The IDA is based in Tucson, a city famous for having a strong lighting ordinance to ensure that people use night sky friendly lights. Their website provides guidelines for outdoor lighting to preserve the night sky and has designated Borrego Springs, California, as one of four International Dark Sky Communities that have met and exceeded their requirements.
The extent of the worldwide expanding communities that emit light at night is revealed in this NASA-NOAA Satellite View of Earth at Night and this Time Lapse View From Space. According to the IDA, NASA’s new ‘Black Marble’ images of nighttime Earth “reveal that our globe is heavily littered with excessive and wasteful lighting that produces light pollution”.
Earlier this year, writer/photographer Bert Gildart wrote in his article, “The Challenge of Dark Skies“, “Because light pollution is so pervasive, areas of the country endowed with a Dark Sky Status should be celebrated.” Bert concludes by saying, “Help reduce light pollution and preserve areas blessed with a Dark Sky Status by using your night images to celebrate and call attention to these ‘vanishing’ islands.”
So I join in the celebration of the night sky by presenting the images above, but I must point out that the stars on the horizon are obscured, not by the sunset, but by the sky glow produced by the city of El Centro, 60 miles away!
See and listen to the YouTube video, “Arthur C. Clarke on Light Pollution“.
And, until your next opportunity to see a clear night sky full of twinkling stars, enjoy the breathtaking wonder of the night skies as seen in the YouTube videos, “Plains Milky Way” and “Yosemite Nature Notes – 19- Night Skies 1080p“.