ambience telescope observatory dome opening
For thousands of years, humans have been captivated by starry skies. Well, now because of light pollution, seeing clearly into the night sky has become more difficult, even in the mountains of Colorado. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is Pulse of the Planet.
“Now there’s so much traffic and so much new construction, that it’s very, very difficult to find a dark spot in Colorado, even away from the large cities.”
William Brown is a professor of Astronomy at Colorado State University – Pueblo, and the director of their observatory. We’re listening to the sounds of the observatory dome being opened.
Professor Brown has been working with city and county governments to enact Dark Sky standards – ordinances that seek to limit the amount of stray light produced by homes, streetlights, and parking lots.
“The whole idea behind Dark Skies is to curtail the wastage of all of this light thrown up into the sky for virtually no reason whatsoever. It benefits no one, it obscures the sky and it’s a waste of money and energy to illuminate space, virtually, to send up light up towards the sky, rather than down on the ground where it is really needed and where it is useful. We require, according to this new ordinance, that all new lighting should be full cut-off. And by full cut-off, I mean that no light should ever shine above the horizontal. It has to be directed downward. We’re against shining light, stray light, up into the sky where inevitably it scatters back into our telescopes and obscures our view of the wonders of the night sky.”
The International Dark Skies Association estimates that around 1,000 local municipalities in the United States have enacted some form of legislation to help protect their night skies.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.