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The Enemy Of The Night

May 29, 2008
What is more inspiring than a dark night filled with sparkling stars? There's just something magical about looking into the dark sky and seeing a sky packed with dazzeling stars, it is certainly breath taking. In all reality there is no real way to communicate how much stars effect us, and how much the inability to see them, really takes away from our ability to experience the night sky. The inabililty to see the stars at night is the result of light pollution, which can be described as the biggest enemy of the night sky.

Light pollution is harmful, just as other forms of pollution are harmful. Also, it is relatively unnecessary, the glow that light pollution causes in the night sky, known as sky glow is not needed. One could might argue that light pollution is a 'necessary' effect of progress, but this is not true. Light pollution comes from inefficient lighting sources, which shine light aimlessly into the night sky. These lights that shine into the sky do not increase nighttime safety or security. After all, lights that shine downward or where they are more appropriately needed are those which increase safety and security. In all reality these aimlessly shining lights, only increase glare and expenses, costing tens of billion of dollars each year in the United States alone.

Lessening light pollution is not impossible. On an individual level, one can choose to light ones home with efficient outdoor lighting systems, which do not shine up into the night sky. By lessening light pollution, one will save money while also reducing the glare and glow, seen in the night sky. It is important for us to keep our night sky dark, being able to see the stars is a privilege, one which we should not take so lightly.

Light pollution is excess or obtrusive light created by humans.

Light pollution is a broad term that refers to multiple problems, all of which are caused by inefficient, annoying or unnecessary use of artificial light.

Specific types of light pollution include light trespass, over-illumination, and sky glow.

Light trespass occurs when unwanted light spills over beyond the boundary of the property on which a light is located to adjacent properties. Light trespass is often caused by high or poorly positioned lights. The result is bright night lighting on an area that would otherwise be dark.

Over-illumination is the excessive use of light. Specifically within the United States, over-illumination is responsible for approximately two million barrels of oil per day in energy wasted.

Sky glow is the bright glow that can be seen over many cities and towns in the evening. It is caused by light traveling through and being scattered by particulates in the atmosphere. It is worse in heavily polluted areas and will always exist to some extent when the air quality is poor.

About two thirds of the population of the world and 99% of people in the continental USA and Western Europe never see a truly dark starry sky from where they live because of light pollution.

When a massive power outage struck southern California in the 1990s, Los Angeles residents reportedly called 911 to express alarm about strange clouds hovering overhead; they were seeing the Milky Way for the first time!

Light pollution must be addressed by changing the habits of society, so that lighting is used more efficiently, with less waste and less creation of unwanted or unneeded illumination.

If we all work together, future generations can regain some of the pleasures of seeing a star filled night sky. To this end, it is important to pick appropriate lighting systems, when lighting your home inside and out. Night sky friendly outdoor lighting fixtures can be found online at www.StarryNightLights.com. Our outdoor lights are chosen because they are both energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
About the Author
Anthony Arrigo is an avid astronomer and night sky activist. His company, Starry Night Lights specializes in night sky friendly outdoor lighting that reduces the impact of light pollution in our communities
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