By Laura Shin
Posting in Cities
The International Dark-Sky Association is combating light pollution to keep stargazing from going the way of the dodo bird.
If you live in, say, New York City, and then go camping in, say, the Himalayas (which, yes, I did this), then you will likely be flabbergasted when you see just how many stars there are in the night sky. They are spread like handfuls of sand across black velvet.
But don't think that it's just skyscrapers that block the heavens.
As you can see from the photo above, pretty much anywhere you are in the U.S. or Europe has nighttime "light pollution," in which lights on Earth make it hard to see the twinkle of little stars.
To help prevent light pollution and create and preserve areas good for stargazing, the International Dark-Sky Association is setting up "Dark Sky Reserves."
The IDA just announced its fourth, and largest, Dark Sky Reserve to date: a 1,600 square-mile patch of land on New Zealand's south island.
"The new reserve is coming in at a 'Gold' level status," the IDA's executive director Bob Parks said. "That means the skies there are almost totally free from light pollution. To put it simply, it is one of the best stargazing sites on Earth."
The new reserve, which includes Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin, will be called the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. The area has had outdoor lighting controls since the early 1980s, so it is already a popular spot for stargazers. The lighting controls have also helped conserve energy and protect wildlife.
The IDA named its first dark sky reserve last month: the NamibRand Nature Reserve in southern Namibia.
Watch the video below to learn more about light pollution.
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via: Discovery News
photo: Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA Godard Space Flight Center
Jun 11, 2012
This is not one of those things that is going to get a lot of priority. I know Mt. Palomar has fought this battle for decades with the growth of San Diego. But there's no way you are going to get millions of people to not use lights at night. But I have to say for casual observers there's nothing like a dark sky where you see the Milky Way and all kinds of features you can't see in the city. Fortunately, the best astronomical sites tend to be in high, dry places. You can choose such sites for major observatories where there isn't a lot of population growth projected in the future.