Coming from Houston I can say my night sky in Canyon Lake is orders of magnitude better than Houston’s. But that’s not much considering Houston’s night sky sucks. In big cities night sky is an oxymoron because for most there essentially is no night. This comment just reminded me of my wife Nancy’s and my first night on our honeymoon, in Toronto, Canada. We were staying in the relatively new Four Seasons hotel, on the 22nd floor. That first night blew me away! No, not talking about that. I was just amazed at the light. We were downtown Toronto and at 1am it seemed every light in every building was on! It was brighter than a county fair midway and seemed at the time to be quite magical.
Once the magic wore off, I realized there was a significant tradeoff. This light not only obliterated the sky over Toronto, but it also spilled light into the sky for many miles around. In communities 30, 40, 50 miles away they could see Toronto’s light rising into the sky, washing it out.
Canyon Lake is about 50 miles from San Antonio and 60 miles from Austin, two big enough cities. But then there are smaller cities, still big enough to enjoy big city amenities such as big shopping centers, big businesses, nice downtowns, all needing big lighting. Canyon Lake is also affected by New Braunfels and San Marcos, and everything along the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Sure, business outdoor lighting gets blamed a lot, but our front and back yard outdoor lighting can contribute too, if it’s not set up correctly.
I like to say our night sky quality is good but folks who have lived here for decades know better. It has been deteriorating and that process appears to be quickening. I haven’t lived here long enough to remember how good the night sky was.
So, a year ago I joined a conversation on Nextdoor about light pollution ruining Canyon Lake’s night sky and next thing I know we have a group named Comal County Friends of the Night Sky. From around 16 charter members to 400, in a year! The Rotary Club and Chamber of commerce have partnered with us too!
A lot of people from around the world are concerned. They’re taking action, at least in the form of supporting the many organizations dedicated to preserving and restoring beautiful night skies. It is a big thing!
Starting this year on Monday, April 5th, International Dark Sky Week has grown from a local event in Virginia to one with international participation. This year’s theme is Discover the Night, and you can become a Dark Sky Defender!
Here are some of the international, state, county/local organization contacts so you can get involved:
What’s in the Sky?
April 6&7; before sunrise; southeast: A waning crescent Moon joins Jupiter and Saturn low in the sky. They form a different pattern on the seventh.