One of the things I’m becoming increasingly concerned about is the loss of one of our birthrights: a view of the stars and the night sky, and the right to a period of darkness every day.
Increasingly light pollution is washing out our skies, making it harder and harder to see the stars.
For every street light, house light and sign that blindly tosses out light in all directions we lose a little more of the dark. Every stray photon steals a little more dark.
And that dark is something we need for good health. Studies have also shown that animals and plants need it too.
Dark down South
That’s why I’m particularly interested to follow the progress of the night sky in the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is considering a case to establish the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Reserve, centred on Canterbury University’s Mt John Observatory at Tekapo and on Mt Cook Airport. …
The Mackenzie Basin’s predominantly clear skies, stable atmosphere and lack of light pollution make it an ideal candidate for reserve status. The Mt John Observatory has six telescopes and can observe 50 million stars on a clear night.
The video below shows night sky at Mt John in New Zealand.
The International Dark-Sky Association is a fabulous source of information on dark skies:
The International Dark-Sky Association is the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night. Join us as we work to protect wildlife, cut energy waste and stop light pollution.
They say about Starlight Reserves:
Definition: a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area. The International Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and receives benefits from them as well.
What we can all do for free
- Go outside at night and look up. It’s simple, quick, easy and free. Just look up, and see the stars. Watch carefully for a few minutes and you may see a passing satellite, or the ISS.
- Check the lights on and around where you live. Do you have house lights on at night when they don’t need to be? Turn them off — you’ll save power and money. Point outside lights towards where the light’s needed, and avoid having them spray light in all directions.
- When it grows dark close the drapes or pull the blinds so the lights inside aren’t needlessly shining out into the world. It’ll keep your house warmer and so reduce your power bills too.