“Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the stars… Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot
When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? Have you experienced that moment when the night sky stops you dead in your tracks? Over 80% of the U.S. population can no longer see the Milky Way or the majesty and splendor a pristine star-filled night sky.
Experiencing the night sky in all of its majesty has been a part of the human experience for millennia. Because of pervasive artificial light at night, seeing a night sky full of stars and the Milky Way is becoming more and more of a rarity. Over 95% of North Americans live under some level of light polluted night skies.
It seemed bad and getting worse. In 2017 satellite observations found that light pollution around the world was increasing by about two percent per year. But these satellites aren’t sensitive to the blue wavelengths produced by light emitting diodes - LEDs - which now make up a huge amount of the outdoor-lighting market. And while the satellites could see upward directed light, they couldn’t detect the light that was being scattered to the side.
For several years scientists working with Globe at Night - an online network of volunteers - kept an eye on the night sky, and compared what they saw to charts showing different levels of star visability. And what they reported was a lot worse than what the satellites have seen. Around the world, artificial skyglow has actually gone up by almost 10 percent per year.
More alarmingly, new data shows Artificial Light At Night is the “second hand smoke” of the environment. This form of environmental pollution needs regulation and mitigation similar to any other form of pollution. The lighting industry needs education and regulation to stop producing and marketing light pollution creating lighting elements. This will occur with increasing public awareness and education about the harmful effects of light pollution. Unlike many other forms of environmental pollution, light pollution can be easily reversed with simple and inexpensive solutions.
Light pollution has rapidly increased across the globe in the past 8 years, with far-reaching consequences that are harmful to many living things - including humans. However, effective and well implemented outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all.
The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that we and other species can thrive, enjoy the natural beauty of the night sky, and discover the perspective it provides of our place in the universe.
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If you haven't already, please join DarkSky International.
Dark Sky Defenders is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit organization dedicated to enrich and expand the global appreciation and support for the preservation and protection of the night sky through education and advocacy.
Our website also collaborates with other astronomy groups and organizations to provide outreach activities related to astronomy and science, as well as education about dark skies and the reduction of light pollution.
Donations to Dark Sky Defenders are tax-deductible.
The night sky is disappearing worldwide at an alarming pace. Dark Sky Defenders are dedicated to advocacy for its conservation and protection.
The Good Neighbor Lighting brochure is now available!
The brochure explains how easy it is to be a good steward of the night sky and provide for pleasing and effective outdoor lighting, without creating a nuisance to others or adversely impacting one's health, wildlife, or the beauty of the night sky.
A full view can be seen on our Solutions page.
High quality tri-folded copies on heavy gloss stock can be obtained directly from Dark Sky Defenders for groups and organizations, along with a brochure display holder if desired, for a minimal cost to cover postage and handling. Use the Contact page to obtain more information, a free sample, or to order.