SaddleBrooke Skygazers – November 2014

John Lauder

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is a Tucson, Arizona, based nonprofit organization incorporated in 1988 by founders Dr. David Crawford, a professional astronomer, and Dr. Timothy Hunter, a physician/amateur astronomer. The mission of the IDA is “to preserve and protect the night time environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.” Light pollution is the result of outdoor lighting that is not properly shielded, allowing light to be directed into the eyes and the night sky. Light that shines into the eyes is called glare and light shining into the night sky above the horizon causes skyglow. Lighting can also cause light trespass when it is directed into areas that it is not wanted, e.g., a neighbor’s yard and windows. IDA was the first organization in the dark-sky movement and is currently the largest.

IDA’s principal approach is to raise awareness about the value of dark, star filled night skies and encourage their protection and restoration through education about the problems and solutions, including outdoor lighting practices that create less light pollution. In 2011 the organization had about 5,000 members in 70 countries.

The problems of light pollution include:

Energy waste: In the U.S. alone, wasted light costs $2.2 billion annually.

Harm to wildlife: Bad lighting can affect the foraging, mating and migratory behaviors of nocturnal wildlife.

Lighting for safety: Bright light does not increase safety. Ironically, too much lighting can threaten security by compromising vision with glare and cast harsh shadows where criminals can hide.

Harm to human health: Exposure to excessive artificial light at night can disrupt the circadian rhythm and deregulate biological functions like eating and sleeping.

Mike Weasner of Oracle, Arizona, led the effort to have Oracle State Park designated an International Dark-Sky Park in October 2014. His presentation to the club last month provided lighting solutions to minimize the harmful efforts of light pollution.

The next Skygazers meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 9 at the Mariposa Room at the DesertView Clubhouse. The topic will be the Rosetta Mission to land on a comet! This landing is currently scheduled for November 12. The next star party (SkyGazers using their telescopes at the softball field) will be held November 20 and December 10. Setup occurs just prior to dusk with viewing at dark, weather permitting.