How to Help Fight Light Pollution
Does it inspire you knowing Flagstaff, a city with over 70,000 people, can see the Milky Way standing in a Walmart parking lot because they use amber dark-sky lighting? It is said only 1% of people know about light pollution. Even many major cities and their lighting engineers do not know about the dangers of white LEDs. There are better LED choices available (see Dark-Sky Resources). Please inform your town by calling or sending a sample letter. For dark-sky lighting to be the *norm* one day, we have to want it as a society, which means we need to speak up to our cities and spread the word about its benefits. In the U.S., after *decades,* we, as a society, *finally* put a stop to cigarette smoke in most public places--we can also put a stop to harmful light pollution.
Thank you! Your help will have a positive impact on many, as well as future generations.
MOST POWERFUL WAYS TO HELP
Our voices can't be ignored if enough of us speak up. This is why Emailing/writing your town/city about the solution to light pollution, calling or just dropping by their office and spreading the word to them and others about amber dark-sky lighting are the two most powerful things we can do to reduce and stop light pollution from spreading, and it will work if enough of us do it—and do it effectively.
In the meantime, please consider becoming a member and supporting the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), who works tirelessly for dark skies and establishing and protecting dark sky places. You can also help start (and sign!) light pollution petitions, share outreach photos online about dark-sky lighting, help pass a lighting ordinance in your town (see below), and of course, use dark-sky lighting! :)
Please click here for sample letters including persuasive arguments and studies (such as the effects lighting has on safety and money--two points very important to cities) and instructions. It's urgent to contact your town before it's too late! If you get invited to speak, here is a helpful outline that can assist you.
This video shows why white LEDs are so bad, and why it's urgent that we fight them!
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO HELP
It's not necessary to do everything on this list! If you've emailed your town and are using dark-sky lighting yourself, you've already done more to fight light pollution than probably 99.9% of all people. Choose what feels right for you.
SHIELD your LIGHTS
Be sure you understand and apply IDA's Lighting Basics, and for a small investment, you can add shields to your existing lights, or, you can purchase dark-sky lighting fixtures. See Dark-Sky Lighting Resources and Shields under the Dark-Sky Resources page.
You could post about this on Nextdoor and encourage your neighborhood to do the same for the benefit of all and a more restful, pleasant environment. You can also encourage your city to shield existing streetlights. Every streetlight manufacturer makes shields, regardless of what anyone tells you!
DARK SKY RESOURCES
Be sure to check out the Dark-Sky Resources page to learn more about making sure your own lights are dark sky compliant, finding dark-sky lamps and shields, links to organizations fighting for our skies, and check out Astronomy Resources so you can get out there and fully enjoy the stars if you aren't already!
INQUIRE ABOUT A LIGHTING ORDINANCE
Write to your city council, city manager, director of public works, etc. Click here to enter your zip code and find who represents your community. Identify if your town has a lighting ordinances. If not, ask what your town is doing to ensure the nighttime sky is protected from intrusive light sources, and help your community enact a dark-sky lighting ordinance. The IDA even has expert consultants who can help! Here is an example of a model lighting ordinance by Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition that will help speed up the planning process, and FDSC also has a very helpful article on lighting codes. You will be joining many communities around the world who have already begun heading in this direction.
PUBLIC OUTREACH MATERIALS
As dark-sky lighting is the key to fighting light pollution, I provide many dark-sky lighting outreach photos that you are free to share online.
The International Dark-Sky Association has excellent public outreach materials, like the video "Losing the Dark." They also have posters, brochures, postcards, PowerPoint Presentations, even advice on how to talk to a neighbor with intrusive lighting! You can use these materials to pass along to those in your community or even to give a speech in your area.
There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars by Bob Crelin is a beautiful children's book that can help show the magic of the night sky while explaining why many of us can no longer see the stars from our homes and offering hopeful and encouraging things we can all do to help.
Help measure light pollution
Dark Sky Meter, for iOS, is a great app for measuring night sky brightness simply by taking a photo of the sky. Because of all the different camera models on Android devices, this app is currently only available for iOS devices.
Loss of the Night, for iOS and Android, is a fun app that points you to stars in the sky and asks you to observe their brightness. The data collected from using the app cannot be determined by orbiting satellites, and it's data that is crucial and urgent, explains Christopher Kyba, who started the app.
If you're concerned about privacy, consider a more public location to measure from, such as a park, as some of these can chart your location, time, etc., to public maps. I also enjoy using these when out of town to get measurements of different locations.
Cities at Night allows you to be a citizen scientist by helping classify pictures taken of city lights by ISS astronauts!
CONSIDER Your town or neighborhood BECOMING DARK SKY CERTIFIED
If your town is open, you can even encourage your town to become a Certified International Dark Sky Community. An added benefit of this is attracting more attention to your town.
If your town isn't ready or qualified for this, perhaps your neighborhood would be. A Dark Sky Development of Distinction Award from IDA would bring added value to your neighborhood and would be a great example for your town.
Find out what organizations are in your area that can offer helpful advice. For example, the state of Texas has a very helpful Texas IDA page. The Texas IDA site offers tips for passing lighting regulations specific to its state and offers examples for how Texas residents can help. Texas residents with responsible lighting can even be awarded. Your state may have a page like this also! Be sure to also see IDA's excellent ideas for getting involved. Be sure to also sign or start petitions in your area to end light pollution as well.
start a dark sky group
See this great article by the International Dark-Sky Association, and be sure to educate yourself about light pollution (please read the info at my website that will link you to articles from the IDA and FDSC).
Thank you for your support in saving our stars for ours and future generations, and thank you to all the amazing organizations out there fighting for our skies!
Below are all wonderful organizations helping to preserve our dark skies where you can find further information on ways to help. I highly recommend keeping up with them!
The international dark-sky association
The International Dark-Sky Association is the largest organization fighting for dark skies. They are who started certifying Dark Sky Places and who developed the Fixture Seal of Approval for dark-sky lighting. They have made heroic efforts fighting for our dark skies, and their website is full of information, articles, and resources to help you spread the word and fight to preserve our stars. I highly recommend becoming a member, and getting involved.
Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition
Flagstaff has been fighting against light pollution since 1958. Flagstaff was the first International Dark Sky Community, and they are leaders in protecting our dark skies. FDSC is an incredible resource, and the information on their website is a must read. Flagstaff should be a model to us all. They are a city of over 70,000, and yet, their citizens can see the Milky Way.
Dark skies awareness
Dark Skies Awareness is also spreading the word about light pollution. They have a wide variety of programs and resources at their website, and it's well worth the visit to check out.