There has always been something about the stars and the night sky that has simultaneously inspired and frightened me. I know I’m not the only one; my oldest son has an amateur telescope that he just brought to my house from his dad’s – and I seriously need to sneak some looks through it – and we are huge Dr. Who fans! While I don’t have the constitution to be an astronaut – a childhood dream after watching Halley’s Comet in my youth – I have been newly motivated to stargaze where the views are most beautiful – where the night is darkest.
Yesterday was the harvest moon, one of the most beautiful and largest I ever remember seeing! I wish I had taken pictures, but as I was driving into the horizon, it’s probably all for the best that I refrained from capturing it on camera! This moon, along with a program on NPR I listened to a few weeks back, has refueled my desire to spend time in wide-open, dark spaces – what might they have talked about you may ask? Well, they were talking about the night sky and how we are actually losing it because of the brightness of the lights in the modern world. I think this is a fascinating situation that People Are Not Talking Enough About!
Who does not love looking into the sky and seeing the multitude of dots and stars across it trying to filter out the shapes of various constellations? Who would willingly cover this up? Well, that’s exactly what all this light pollution is doing. It’s hiding the natural wonder of the sky from us – Galileo would be disappointed…
As humans, we naturally fear the dark – the shadows – and this fear has allowed us to survive as a species for thousands of years. But, it is this very fear that is adding to the loss of the night sky. We illuminate cities pretending that all the light will keep terrible people from doing bad things when the brilliance of the streets actually CREATES shadows for lurking strangers while concurrently killing our night vision to sense the danger.
Additionally, when the night is lightened, our health is adversely affected! This incessant brightness is apparently messing around with our internal clocks and we are losing the ability to create melatonin in our bodies.
Purchase those blackout curtains people and get rid of your electronics!
The blue light on our personal device screens, the television, the fire detector, the neighbors back light, etc… is diminishing our God-given human abilities to survive in the dark without light – How will I wake up in the morning for work!!
I know that I live in a country-ish suburb of the Atlanta area, and while there is light pollution at night where I am, it’s just country enough that we can see some of these wonderful star formations as opposed to those unfortunates in Atlanta proper. *sigh* Since I have to leave the house before 6 am, I’m able to look up and see what the heavens have to offer visually. However, is that satisfaction enough for our systems? I believe that periodically we need to recharge ourselves to live with nature – much like Thoreau when he went out to live in the woods for a two year time span to see how close to nature he could become to avoid the effects of industrialization. And how far into industrialization we have become!
Therefore, I have decided that I truly want the next family vacation to be out West.
There’s a twofold reason for this, since my sisters and my mother live out in that direction, however, there are also several locations sections of the West recognized as having the darkest sky, meaning one has the ability to see the universe at night and with more clarity than anywhere else in the world. Apparently, according to the newscast, there are only 25 such places in existence throughout the world. So, with this in mind, I would like to go and see one of those dark places where I can regain my night vision and see constellations that have been deprived from much of the world because of light pollution.
I will have to further investigate these locations to see the camping situation and the regulations and what not, however there is a Utah National Park that has awesome formations and framing for the night sky that I think would make an adventurous family trip as we revel in the universe in the dead of the night in one of the darkest places in the world with perhaps only a red light to help see our path. My sons would love to visit the Dinosaur National Monument (which was mentioned in the NPR program), if not just for the name! For world travelers, there is a location in Scotland, outside of Edinburgh that has now gained a dark space classification – as if I really need a reason to want to visit Scotland…
Not only will this help us reset our internal clocks as we experience nature in the nighttime, it will also help us regain the sense of night vision while bringing us back to how our ancestors saw the world. I can’t imagine that 100-150 years ago this was even an issue, however, locals free of light pollution are becoming rare and the governments are now becoming involved.
I couldn’t imagine living in a world with no stars, so I better bring my children to a place where they can view them perfectly for maybe the only time in their lives.
**No One Paid Me Anything To Mention/Link Them – This Just Looks Really Awesome!!**