Sunday, November 16, 2008

Turn of The Damn Lights

We've written in the past about the night sky. Getting outdoors at night is especially important to really experiencing nature. There's really nothing like gazing at the milky way on a crisp Fall night.

We would do night hikes up to Gray Knob in any weather just to experience the nocturnal feel of the woods. With a full moon, we'd get out in the winter time above treeline, or get out on skis to experience the different world of a moon lit night. I've been lucky, living in places with minimal "light pollution" impacts from human development.

There's a big new hotel being built near where I live, and despite the planned opening of Spring of 2010, they already have the place lit up like it's daytime. We drove by it last night and were amazed at the degree of star killing light pollution. I then turned my head east to see a wall of light from the exurban sprawl and DC beyond that. Where were the stars?

The case is the same driving home from work, where I pass the Charles Town races to the west, whose light likely destroys anyone's ability to see any celestial objects except the moon.

Verlyn Klinkenborg has a piece in this months National Geographic that laments this loss, while reminding us that it's not only the stars we lose, it's an awful lot of energy as well.