International Dark Sky Week
International Dark Sky week is here and runs from April 5 – 12 this year in 2021! If you haven’t heard of it, or want to know a little more about this week, read on. I will also share a few of my favorite images I have captured underneath the dark skies, such as one of my favorites from dark sky park Arches National Park in Utah, below.
What Is It?
The International Dark Sky Association was establish in 2003. IDSA and its members protect the night sky from light pollution. This is accomplished by educating the general public to those that even build and install lighting. Many members and chapters all over advocate for reducing light pollution where it’s needed and help spread the word with various festivals, monthly meetings within chapters, and a yearly conference.
The dark sky committee helps establish locations with certification that they have taken the steps and educated their communities about preserving the night sky and that the views at night are unobstructed as possible. The process starts with some tasks such as creating lighting policies for the outdoors and replacing night lights around the area that are efficient at lighting the space below them and not outward and up.
The application process can take from 1 to 3 years and consists of three phases, you can see the application phases here.
Why Is It Important?
It’s estimated that less than 20% of the U.S. population have been under skies dark enough to see the Milky Way! Dark skies have a mystique about them that been around since the dawn of time. As humans, many of us have always been fascinated looking up at the sky. We stare at the stars. We wonder about our place in the universe. And of course we love to just admire their beauty above. Lots of us have hobbies revolving around the nighttime skies, from astrology and sky gazing, to photographing the night sky, and more.
But did you know that protecting out night sky also helps wildlife and plants? Animal sleep patterns, bird migrations, wildlife habitats, and plant growth can all be affected by light pollution.
What is Light Pollution?
International Dark Sky Week is a great time to learn about light pollution. There are four components to light pollution. Those are glare, light trespass, clutter and urban sky glow. Sometimes when you see Milky Way shots you see an orange glow near the bottom of these shots. Even from a few hundred miles away you can see urban light glow. I live just outside of Phoenix, Arizona and often times when shooting near here, you will see the glow of Tucson to the south in my shots.
Take a look at this light pollution map of the U.S. As you can see the west side of the country has much less light pollution than the east.
Become an International Dark Sky Member
73% of the funds for this organization come from individuals such as you and I. It’s just $35 per year and even less for students. You can read more about joining on the IDA website.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about International Dark Sky Week!