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Let's Keep the Stars at Night Big and Bright!

Updated: Sep 27, 2023


re is something to be said about the ability to take in a beautiful night sky. It is a scenic treasure valued by amateur astronomers and casual stargazers. Whether it’s a family camping under the big night sky, a couple taking in a romantic view, or the wildlife that lives by the light of the starry night, it is important that we protect this natural scenic resource.

As urban areas grow and use of artificial outdoor lighting increases, night skies brighten and stars fade from view. One-third of humanity, including 80% of Americans, can no longer see the Milky Way and without initiatives to protect the night sky, many may never see it in their lifetime. As population booms and industries develop, excessive use of artificial light, also known as light pollution, creates the following hazards

  • Glare or excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort and increased energy consumption.

  • Skyglow which is the brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas which restricts our ability to see the night sky and stars.

  • Light trespass or light falling where it is not intended or needed which can affect wildlife.

  • Clutter and excessive groupings of light sources which can be a confusing distraction.

The good news is that this is reversible. Several states, including Texas in 2021, have passed legislation that allows communities to protect their night skies by passing necessary lighting ordinances to pursue a Dark Sky designation. This designation by The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) and their Dark Sky Program includes the following five categories.

  • International Dark Sky Sanctuaries

  • International Dark Sky Parks

  • International Dark Sky Reserves

  • Urban Night Sky Places

  • International Dark Sky Communities

This designation also exempts lighting ordinances if a governmental entity adopts a resolution stating its intent to become an IDA community and regulates lighting in a manner that is not more restrictive than necessary to become IDA certified. This allows communities to protect their night skies without limited or prohibiting development and growth. Find out if your community has a lighting ordinance. If not, try working with them to pass one. We can all do our part to keep our stars big and bright! For more information on IDA and for designated IDA locations worldwide, spend some time with their interactive map!

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