By Connie Walker Sometimes what we lose can be just as important as what we gain. The loss of something that has influenced our culture for millennia can change our culture's perspective of the world around us. Yet if change happens slowly, we may not realize we have lost anything. Case in point: what if a starry night sky had never inspired Van Gogh to paint "Starry Night" or Holst to compose "The Planets" or Shakespeare write sonnets that encompass so much astronomy. Citizen-science is a rewardingly inclusive way to bring awareness to the public on important issues like the...

We've all seen examples of good and bad lighting, but every once in a while there’s an example of lighting that is extremely bad. I present to you four examples of the some of the worst of the worst in outdoor lighting. In the United States many people are very patriotic and somewhat obsessive about displaying and illuminating the U.S. flag. Sometimes that sense of patriotism gets a bit carried away. Take for example this flag on display (left) outside of a fire station in California. The fire station won an award for being an environmentally sustainable building, but apparently...

It’s no secret that city lights are brighter than starlight. Almost everyone, from amateur stargazers to professional astronomers, has experienced how hard it can be to see the stars when they are eclipsed by the bright glow of streetlights. It might surprise you to know that even when viewed from space, city lights are brighter than the stars.   Spain This time-lapse image was made from a series of photos taken in succession by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as they passed over Spain. From the astronauts’ vantage point, they were hundreds of miles away from the streetlights,...

There’s a Lot to See and Contemplate under the Starry Skies of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park By Beth Anne Eckerle Emmet County Director of Communications Under the cover of night, the tiny Saw-whet owl emerges for its daily dalliances, feeding on mice and small mammals, mating and—during certain times of the year—migrating. It’s rarely seen, because by the time dawn breaks the Saw-whet has disappeared back into the dense plumage of its home forest. Each spring in Northwest Michigan, bird-banders head out into the night at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City and set up...

By Carolyn Collins Petersen A few years ago my husband and I set out to make a short video about light pollution for the International Dark-Sky Association . This is the story of that video, called "Losing the Dark", which has spread around the world and is available for anyone to download. It has been used in talks about the subject in towns and cities, and has been downloaded by more than a thousand planetariums. I've seen stories about it showing on town cable networks and in college classrooms.  We've been dark-sky advocates and members of IDA for a number of...

For billions of years, life has relied on Earth’s day-night rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals. Humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night. Research shows that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many species.   5. Sea Turtles  Sea turtles live in the ocean but hatch on the beach at night. Hatchlings find their way to the sea by detecting the bright horizon over the ocean. Artificial lights can draw them away from the sea, stranding them on land where they’re vulnerable to...

Tell Your Friends and Family about Losing the Dark! It’s International Dark Sky Week! Do you want to help spread the word about light pollution and the importance of dark skies? We have the perfect tool for you. Losing the Dark, our short education film that addresses these issues. Losing the Dark - Flat Screen Version from International Dark-Sky Assn on Vimeo . It can be watched online at YouTube and Vimeo or you can download it for free. There’s even a fulldome version for use at planetarium theaters, and it’s available in 14 languages, with more on the way!...

  International Dark Sky Week 2015 Join us for seven days of celebration, learning and action!   Happy International Dark Sky Week! Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. Each year it is held in April around Earth Day and Astronomy Day. In explaining why she started the week, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into...

Arches National Park in Utah is part of the area that makes up the Colorado Plateau. Photo credit: Jacob W. Frank/NPS.   As part of the National Park Service Call to Action, the agency is leading an effort to establish landscape–scale conservation of dark skies that are free from light pollution. The Colorado Plateau includes 130,000 square miles of western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, southern and eastern Utah, and northern Arizona. The area is sparsely populated, has minimal impact from outdoor lighting, and has a high percentage of public land ownership, resulting in an ideal place for launching this novel...