Sunday, April 22, 2007

A bid to reclaim vanishing night

Looked up into the night sky lately? The stars don't seem as bright and plentiful as they were before.

Part of the problem is the ever increasing glow of outdoor lighting in and around developing areas contributing to "light pollution".

The following news commentary notes "the International Dark Sky Association estimates that 99 percent of the people in the United States and Europe live in light-polluted areas, unable to see traces of the Milky Way or many stars when they walk out of their homes and gaze skyward." This will forever change our view of the stars and night sky unless everyone chooses to reduce the amount of artificial light around homes and shopping areas.

Reducing night time lighting can help preserve the natural beauty of the night sky and efforts to reduce "light pollution will cut wasted energy and greenhouse gases from power plants" and help address global warming issues.
News and Observer
April 22, 2007
Catherine Clabby, Staff Writer

A bid to reclaim vanishing night

CHAPEL HILL - As the show begins, visitors to the Morehead Planetarium see a night sky free of polluting light. Projected onto the dome is a truly dark sky pricked by countless sparkling points. A narrow smudge -- our galaxy, the Milky Way -- is as clear as day.

Then the light grows to a brightness familiar outside the building. The number of stars visible in the virtual sky drops dramatically, to just a handful of tiny bright spots.

"I know, it's terrible," Morehead educator Amy Sayles says sympathetically to a multigenerational crowd of dozens who gathered at the planetarium for "Our Vanishing Night," a program leading up to the Earth Day observances today.

This year, a growing coalition showed itself in the Triangle asking the rest of us to turn down the lights. A group of amateur and professional astronomers has made this plea for decades. Now the astronomers are joined by a new ally -- environmentalists. Read more...

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