October is Night Sky Month

It’s progress. The Hill Country Alliance, along with many hill country counties and cities, have designated October as Hill Country Night Sky Month. The State of Colorado has designated June as their Night Sky Month.  Utah has April.  I’m sure it took blood, sweat, and probably tears to make that happen.

Will the state of Texas recognize the need to preserve this resource?

Seems it’s hard for people to accept responsibility for ruining natural resources and harder to get them to change.  Sometimes it takes the government to hold them responsible and make them change how they do things, in the public interest.  Happens all the time with other natural resources, why not with the night sky.

A complicating factor is our night sky isn’t a critical resource such as air and water.  Little thought is given to the consequences of putting up unshielded security lights, parking lot lights, billboard lights, you name it.

The night sky doesn’t have the EPA’s protection, but it does have the IDA (International Dark Sky Association), state chapters of the IDA, organizations like the Hill Country Alliance, and local groups.  People volunteering to advocate for dark night skies.

So, we’ve gotten to that point now in our beautiful hill country.  We must form advocacy groups, get on soapboxes, write letters, attend city council, utility, and county commissioner meetings, do whatever to get someone to take notice, to take action.  The PEC (Pedernales Electric Cooperative) has committed to night sky friendly lighting, taking action to reduce light pollution.

Some cities develop ordinances to try to reduce light pollution, but enforcement can be tough. Maybe it boils down to resources, not willingness.  New Braunfels has ordinances to limit light pollution and New Braunfels Utilities has committed to using night sky friendly lighting, but from Canyon Lake I can see its light dome at night, just east of San Antonio’s. I’m sure there are circumstances.

There are businesses that understand the value of dark night skies and use shielded outdoor lighting.  Local advocacy groups such as Comal County Friends of the Night Sky recognize these businesses with a sticky sign proclaiming they are a night sky friendly business.  They can post it in a conspicuous spot where their customers, even other businesses, get the message.

It’s hard, and people, even utility companies, often don’t realize their outdoor lights might be contributing to light pollution. Did someone say…it’s an educational issue!?  It is, I think, mostly.  In some cases, unfortunately, the offender just doesn’t care.

Someday maybe we won’t have to stand on soapboxes and cry the night sky is dying! Someday maybe every month will be night sky month.

Well, not yet, but we’re making some progress.

Check out the links below for their schedule of activities and participate!

hillcountryalliance.org      comaldarksky.org      IDA.org

What’s in the Sky?

10/03; 5:30 am; east: Check out a waxing crescent Moon rising with the bright star Regulus.