Turn off the Lights

Friday, 29 November 2013

Pic by Benjamin Benschneider/Maxine Nagel and The Seattle Times.
One of the pictures above, of the Seattle skyline, was taken by photographer Benjamin Benschneider. The other is of the south Milky Way taken by Maxine Nagel, Treasurer of the Seattle Astronomical Society.

If we weren't so scared of the dark, if we turned off the lights at night, that is akin to what what we would see on every clear night.  We wouldn't need superimposition.  It's what's there.

Here are some interesting stats about outdoor lighting, from the International Dark-Sky Association:

From the International Dark-Sky Association website


  1. Hey, that's not far from here - about 3 hours drive! I've been in that tall building - the Space Needle - a few times. And I LOVE the idea of the dark. I love the stars, they are so overwhelming. I wish we could see them more without having to drive to the middle of nowhere.

    1. Oh, wow! Okay, my nascent geographical skills gain another piece of new information. I didn't realise Seattle was so close ... in fact, I thought Washington State was over the other side of the country ...?

      Goes and looks at map.

      Wow! So you are next door to IDAHO? And Washington state is ABOVE you? What on earth is going on here? :D

      The Space Needle looks awesome. It would be even more awesome if you couldn't see it for hours on end because it's night time, huh :)

    2. Hey, my geographical knowledge of Australia is pitiful, so no worries. Hopefully someday I'll have the chance to change that from first-hand experience. :)

      Light pollution is kind of ridiculous, but seeing as how we are a round-the-clock society now, having light at night is necessary. I just wish that weren't so true.

    3. It's a topic I'm really interested in. I was reading some stats a few months ago about how having your place lit up at night can actually make things LESS safe than more. A topic I am wanting to explore more in an essay.

      The International Dark-Sky Association talks about how the lighting that we do have can be changed so as to make a massive difference in terms of focussing it away from the sky, etc. There's still lots of things that can be done to make much more a difference.

      Hopefully one day this ridiculous round-the-clock thang will change because we want it to change. Be nice for everything to shut the hell up for at least a few hours every night. And I really hate what night shift does to people's clocks. It doesn't feel right - feels like slavery a tad.

      Yes, I hope you have the chance to explore this massive continent some day too. I look forward to showing you around a small portion of it :)

  2. I miss living in the country. The "proper" country, where the nearest shops were 25kms away.
    The nights were truly dark - no light pollution at all. Only the star studded sky and, where we lived, the sound of the ocean waves rolling endlessly in the distance.
    We would often take blankets outside on summer nights and just lie there and watch the sky.
    This was in the days where country TV had but two channels, and one was often snowy.
    And, before the days of the distracting internet :)
    Good times.

    1. I miss that proper country too ... although I've never lived there, I can't guarantee I never will. I remember having to leave my auntie and uncle's farm at Nagambie after holidays and coming back to Melbourne feeling so constricted and depressed ... and that looming light glare that starts showing up when you're about 50 k away from Melbourne on the Hume Highway. Yuk.

      That sounds so lovely, taking blankets outside and watching the stars. You do really cool things with your time, Ms V :)

  3. I was listening to Mysterious Universe Poscas not long ago and they were saying that not only is light pollution an issue for people, it is also an issue for animals who run their lives based on ark skies or seeing the stars. Where we live, about 50 kms east of the centre of Perth in the hills, the skies used to be pretty good. Now a third of our night sky is obscured by light pollution. Not to mention the school across the road that endlessly builds then puts ever more outdoor lights on its new buildings. Meh.

    1. The way light pollution is interfering with animals I find quite distressing :(

      I really wonder if we need to have some ordinances put in place so that schools and corporate buildings etc don't go overboard in assauging their fear by putting light after light. I know that there's LED lights out now that reduce night-time glare, and that's a great thing for everybody.


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