Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Yorker in the dark

In this week's New Yorker, David Owen writes on our disappearing dark skies and what organizations like the International Dark Sky Association are doing to save them.

Light pollution abatement should be an easy sell: IDA-approved lighting provides the same useful illumination as conventional lighting but, because it doesn't leak light upward or horizontally, it saves money and energy. And, the IDA argues, "full cutoff" or "fully shielded" fixtures are actually safer than the "glare bombs" that typically light up our public spaces, since they don't create the sort of dramatically shadowed areas criminals might hide in.

But the New Yorker story makes it clear that stargazing is still the beating heart of the dark sky campaign. Owen writes:

I lay on my back on a bench and watched for meteors, which streaked past every few minutes: in a truly dark sky, shooting stars are too numerous to bother wishing on. We stayed until we noticed the first glow of the approaching sunrise. Stars near the eastern horizon melted away ahead of it, as though the darkness itself were dissolving.

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