Dark skies

dark skies lakeHave you ever wandered around at night without a flashlight?

At first, you can’t see a thing. Yet over the next 20 minutes, your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness of the night. Yet if we shine our flashlight again, we go right back to not being able to see a thing. https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/dark-sky-preserve-lake-superior/

AFTER ABOUT FIVE MINUTES in darkness, our eyes become up to 30 times more sensitive than they are to bright light. After about a half hour, they become 100,000 times as sensitive. https://www.alternativesjournal.ca/energy-and-resources/9-ways-curb-light-pollution

On a clear night in 1994, an earthquake rumbled beneath Los Angeles and caused a city-wide power outage just before dawn. Startled awake, some residents who had stumbled outside called various emergency centers and a local observatory to report a mysterious cloud overhead.

That weird object turned out to be the band of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, which had long been obscured from view by the city’s lights. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/nights-are-getting-brighter-earth-paying-the-price-light-pollution-dark-skies/

navigable chanelShoreline illumination affects both human and aquatic life. It creates glare along the navigateable channel. The bright lights prevent the eyes of boaters from adapting to the darkness. They fail to see channel markers and hazards. Without this obtrusive shoreline lighting, it is much easier to see the tree line and flotsam in the water.

Songbirds rely on a good insect population but a single light will attract insects from over 100 meters away. This interrupts their normal behaviour of eating, mating and migrating. As they decrease in number, the insect-eating birds migrate to other regions in search of a better food supply. The apparent loss of songbirds has been attributed to these changes in their environment. http://www.starlight-theatre.ca/articles/FOCA-Article.pdf

A8CDE979-1A45-4456-A0DB-5346284B2B88… light pollution may contribute to the decline of firefly populations across the globe…. Scientists in Maryland focused specifically on the effects of light pollution on fireflies; in the presence of artificial light, they found an almost 50% decrease in firefly flashes per minute.

‘LED bulbs emit light at all wavelengths, like sunlight, and this type of light may be more disruptive to nocturnal wildlife than the older outdoor light bulbs, such as sodium streetlights, which emit light at fewer spectral wavelengths. https://www.darksky.org/fireflies-need-the-dark-to-talk-with-light/

Constant illumination along built-up shorelines overwhelms the cues for the changing seasons needed by aquatic wildlife. This light makes the length of the autumn night seem short and summer-like. It can also drive zooplankton to deeper waters while encouraging the growth of algae on the surface. This separation of the consumers from the food supply may stress the vitality of the ecosystem. http://www.starlight-theatre.ca/articles/FOCA-Article.pdf

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Light pollution is harming our environment, wildlife habitats, and our quality of life. Every Day Needs a Night. All around us this unintended pollutant is taking a silent toll. Each year, thousands of migrating and shorebirds are killed because of unnecessary artificial light at night. Light pollution threatens aquatic ecosystems by increasing the risk of harmful algae blooms. It also impacts our quality of life by eradicating our access to the wonder of beautiful night skies. https://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/light-pollution-solutions/

Here are some ways you can reduce light pollution and help preserve Dark Skies in your area of the world.

1. Use Core Glow https://coreglow.ca/ stones for all your Outdoor Night Lighting:

Core Glow stones only emit 5-7 candelas of light, and do not ‘cast’ light as electric lights do. The ambient glow from Core Glow stones is not a source of light pollution, and does not contribute to bright skies at night. Use Core Glow stones to line pathways, steps, and more outdoors instead of bright electric lights. Even better – Core Glow stones do not break and do not require technical expertise to use. Reduce your resource and light pollution impact by choosing Core Glow.

In fact, Core Glow stones can be used as light pollution indicators. If you are able to see the glow at night, that means you are in an area with low light pollution (lucky you!). If the glow is faint or not visible, that means you are in an area where light pollution is high. Use your Core Glow stones to test your home, yard, and neighbourhood for light pollution hot spots, as well as to find the best Dark Sky spots.

2. Consider replacing outdoor lights with intelligently designed, low-glare fixtures. Did you know there is a certification body for sky-friendly outdoor lighting? The International Dark-Sky Association https://www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/ evaluates fixtures for low glare and efficiency. Look for the IDA seal of approval on locally sourced fixtures, or seek out a company such as Starry Night Lights, which specializes in low-pollution lighting.

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3. Set an example – Turn your lights off!

You’ll be surprised how much squelching a few bulbs around your home improves the view. Why not take this opportunity to get reacquainted with the nighttime sky? You don’t need a telescope to see the major constellations, bright nebulas, open clusters, many of the planets, comets, meteors and dozens of man-made satellites and spacecraft.

It’s not difficult to learn the ropes. If you’re feeling old school, buy a simple star wheel. For easy pointers on nightly backyard observation highlights, try Sky and Telescope’s The Week’s Sky at a Glance https://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/. To spot orbital objects, such as the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, and a galaxy of satellites and discarded rocket boosters, create an account at Heavens Above https://heavens-above.com/main.aspx (be sure to customize it for your location). And you can use your computer as a virtual planetarium with Stellarium http://stellarium.org/, a free and full-featured 3-D program that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux.

A set of inexpensive binoculars will expand your star-spotting capability. But all you really need is the desire to look up into the wonder of the night — and the blessings of a dark sky.

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