Dark Sky Week is an annual event—occurring the week surrounding the April new moon, when the sky is at its darkest—to bring awareness to the light pollution that is washing out the star-lit skies overhead. The documentary Saving the Dark—created in association with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) by Bay Area resident Sriram Murali: impassioned night sky photographer, amateur astronomer, and dark sky advocate—will premier at SF DocFest, San Francisco’s documentary film festival (May 31 to June 14). This jam-packed 2-minute trailer is a brilliant introduction to the concept of Dark Sky Week. Sriram also had this to say:
Big Picture: 80% of the people living in North America can no longer see the Milky Way.
What do we lose when we lose sight of the stars? Excessive and improper lighting robs us of our night skies, disrupts our sleep patterns and endangers nocturnal habitats. The current advances in LED technology have enabled several cities to safely light their streets and save energy without disrupting the nighttime environment. Saving The Dark explores the need to preserve night skies and what we can do to combat light pollution.
The International Dark Sky Association recommends using shielded lighting, low color temperature LEDs (2700K and less), and motion sensors for safety rather than leaving lights on all night. Unshielded bright LEDs create a lot of glare and impair vision. Several cities and municipalities have recently switched to dark sky friendly lighting and people are welcoming the change—they’ve hardly noticed any difference in the lighting and in fact, hated the harsh bright lights. Tucson, Phoenix, Montreal, the State of Georgia are all examples. It makes me really happy and optimistic hearing these success stories.
Fighting light pollution does not mean turning all your lights off, it’s about being wise with our lighting choices.
If you are wondering what you can do, Sriram has a few suggestions for Local Action:
Start by inspecting the lighting in our homes. Home Depot has a separate section for dark sky friendly lighting. Then, look for bright unshielded lights on nearby streets, parking lots, etc. Raise awareness on the issue, get help from the IDA to make your city write lighting ordinances.
post by Jenny Stein, environmental committee