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Harun Mehmedinovic
This can be a Berkshire sky. It's the Milky Way over ancient bristlecone forest. Photo courtesy Sierra Club

EYES TO THE SKY: Protect the night, it is good for you

By Monday, Sep 16, 2019 Learning

September 16 – 29, 2019

Mount Washington — As the Sun’s arc shortens in the skies of Earth’s northern hemisphere, we approach equal day and night. Soon after the autumnal equinox, which occurs on September 23 this year, darkness expands over daylight. We will see more of the distant stars in our galaxy than our own star, the Sun. Through the long nights, we might imagine that many of the stars in our skies are suns that light and warm other planets, making life possible. When we pause to think cosmically, we awake to boundless amazement at the existence of planet Earth, the precision and beauty of our home planet’s functioning.

How does each of us contribute to protecting the health of our planetary home in the cosmos? Human health – physical and mental – derives from healthy environments. Our concern in “Eyes to the Sky” is with what has been described as Earth’s largest habitat: the sky. A clear blue sky lifts our mood. We all recognize and decry air pollution, often seen as a band of smog around the horizon of an otherwise blue sky. Air pollution is not only disfiguring, it is a health hazard. Likewise, the haze that more or less obliterates – especially in towns and cities – what would be a clear, awe-inspiring, star-filled sky at night, is slow to be recognized for what it is: a smog of light pollution. Light pollution has been discovered to be as hazardous to our physical and mental health as other toxins. It is also within our reach to clean it up.

Support the appropriate lighting initiatives of local, regional and state planning boards. Read at least the first article on the Resources list, below, that begins: “The lights we use to illuminate our cities and suburbs [and rural settlements j.i.] don’t just shine on our sidewalks and streets; they also shine up into the sky, where they bounce around in the atmosphere, creating a smog of light. That featureless glow of our nocturnal skies is called “light pollution.”

Resources

“Is the Evening Sky Doomed? Light pollution is threatening our ability to see the cosmos.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/17/opinion/sunday/light-pollution.html

Health concerns related to light pollution
http://connectingpoint.wgby.org/light-pollution-health-concerns/

September Skywatching Tips – https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2488/whats-up-video-september-2019-skywatching-tips-from-nasa/

Opportunity to participate

November 8 – 9, International Dark Sky Association Annual Meeting and Conference, Tucson, Arizona, and the 14th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night: An Intercontinental Partnership https://www.darksky.org/about/agm-2019/ and https://www.darksky.org/the-night-sky-has-no-border/ This intercontinental collaboration highlights common challenges faced across the globe in our fight to Protect the Night Sky from light pollution.


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