This week we wish to recognize the towns of Westcliffe and East Cliff Colorado for their recent applications with the International Dark Sky Association to become recognized Dark Sky Communities. A Dark Sky Community is “a town, city, municipality, or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of quality lighting codes, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies.” The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) has been working since 1988 to create awareness about the issue of Light Pollution. Light Pollution is the glow that results from outdoor lighting that unnecessarily shines up into the sky. It is this glow that prevents us from seeing all but the brightest objects in the night sky when we are observing from a city or suburban area.
We at the David Chandler Company appreciate the work being done by IDA not only because we wholeheartedly support the cause, but because of the rational and reasonable approach IDA has taken. As John Barentine of IDA recently explained on Colorado Public Radio, there is no agenda to compel anyone to turn off lights on private property. Rather the organization relies on creating public awareness and providing information, technical tools, and even provides model development codes for individuals and municipalities to consider and implement on their own. To help individuals and organizations make good choices IDA’s website (www.darksky.org) has a host of information including a list of approved lighting fixtures and lighting vendors that can supply responsible lighting solutions. Visit their site and support their mission.
In addition to the benefits to astronomers, moving toward responsible outdoor lighting can ameliorate adverse affects from light pollution on human health, wildlife, insects, plants, and last but not least, energy efficiency. After all, light being directed skyward is all cost-no benefit.