June 21, 2020 – The Night Sky is Suffering

But you can help heal it!

It’s a fact, cannot be argued, the night sky above us is getting lighter and lighter.  The cause is indisputable, it comes from outdoor lighting. It’s not liberal vs conservative, or my scientist says this, and your scientist says that.  No lawyer can argue it’s not happening, unless that lawyer lives in North Korea!

My question is ‘do you think a dark, stary night sky is worth preserving?’  I have to assume anyone interested in this column says YES!  But interest in astronomy is just one way of enjoying the night sky.  How many poems, essays, novels, artworks revealed a muse in the night sky?

Ask your parents if they remember seeing the Milky Way shimmering in the sky.  Towns like New Braunfels were still big enough 50 years ago to have most conveniences, but their night sky was dark and beautiful.  Why?  No security lighting. It was expensive and thought unnecessary.  Fast forward 50 years and seems like everyone has security lighting.  Why?  Fear, and it is relatively inexpensive.  There is a sense of need, our houses and yards bathed in light seem so much more secure than when they are all dark and gloomy.  That sense of need is not misplaced, crime is a fact, and no one wants to be a victim.

But get this, one of my sisters lived just outside Milwaukee WI in a nice, crime free neighborhood.  That neighborhood forbade streetlights and security lights were frowned upon.  Really, people got harassed if they tried to put up security lights in their yard.  So, why was it crime free?  According to my sister, it was so dark there, criminals avoided them because they couldn’t see without flashlights and that was too risky.  Whether or not she was right I cannot prove, but that neighborhood remains crime free.  I stayed there a few times and gotta say, it was tricky getting around at night without a flashlight.  No, it was dangerous.  Kids toys, sandboxes, rocks, fences, clotheslines, it was a minefield!

Well, that’s not the case here.  We have lots of light at night but guess what, it costs a bit and really does not provide the security.  It makes everything visible and gives criminals shadowed cubbies to hide in.  I suppose as we lit up our environment those intent on mischief learned to use available hiding places.  Well, the successful ones anyway.  Evolution eh?

Go anywhere at night, even around Canyon Lake and businesses are lit up like birthday cakes.  Good for utility companies bank accounts.

If you need to feel safe, do it responsibly.  It isn’t expensive or hard.  Direct your light where it is supposed to go and not in the sky or your neighbor’s windows.

Join the movement and help save our night sky:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/166098014710276/

What’s in the Sky?

June 27; before sunrise; east-northeast: Venus, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades share the sky