Light Pollution and Stargazing for the Go Green Enthusiasts

For some go green enthusiasts, the focus tends to be on preserving the environment through an ever growing variety of earth-friendly practices. We are familiar with some of these such as self-sustainable solar energy and its related energy saving devices, wind power, hydro power, organic farming and the many other eco-friendly money savers.

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But what about light pollution? Could this be a green solutions project? And what really is light pollution?

While Wikipedia defines this as excessive or obtrusive artificial light, I rather like the definition by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) –“ Any adverse effect of artificial light including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energy waste”. And there it is – energy waste makes it an excellent candidate for our go green solutions approach.



But where does stargazing come in?

Well, wherever there is light pollution or excessive artificial light, it obscures or blocks the stars in the night sky and interferes with astronomical observatories in the affected area. For those of us who like astronomy or who simply want to stargaze, this is a real problem. Don’t get me wrong; I am all for light and more light; I appreciate the need for security and so I say, let there be light. But, we need to find ways to preserve some areas free from light pollution so that we can better conduct dark sky research, learn, observe the heavenly bodies and see to further our understanding of this universe to which that we currently have access. Who knows? Maybe we will see the aliens before they get here. But seriously!!

Astronomy is very sensitive to light pollution. Put another way, stargazers viewing the night sky from the lighted city environs will have much less favorable experience than those persons who have dark skies.

What can we do about light pollution?

Politics and philosophy aside, we need to take some action. We need to go green.                                    Light Pollution _ Go Green

Some folks argue that light pollution could be reduced by using light more efficiently –doing more with less. The challenge is not all people are the same way by light. One man’s pollution is another man’s illumination.

Some solutions to the problem of light pollution are simple and readily available.

  • Unshielded streetlights can be replaced with fully-shielded, low-pressure sodium lights — which are the most energy efficient source of light currently available.
  • Use lower wattage light bulbs.
  • Replace some outside lights with motion sensor lights that only turn on when they’re triggered. Don’t use any lights when you don’t specifically need them.
  • Proper aiming of the lights is a sound way to decrease light pollution.
  • Encourage your neighbors to take the same steps you did.
  • Lobby with your local governing authorities to take some action. This also saves money since light pollution is a major contributor to high-cost, low-efficiency operations.
  • Do whatever you can to cut back on light use, especially as night starts to fall.
  • Use dimmer switches to help reduce the light output where appropriate.
  • For late-night activities – bathroom or refrigerator – consider installing a red nightlight.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark enough. You will save money and get better rest.

This go green solutions list is not exhaustive. As you think about it you will find other things to add. Let’s go green and reduce light pollution for our night skies.

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