PBS Documentary To Explore The Effects Of Light Pollution
July 5, 2012

Documentary To Explore The Effects Of Light Pollution

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

The world may start to look a little darker if the Public Broadcasting Service's new campaign has an influence in the matter.

PBS will be joining the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) by airing "The City Dark" - documentary that explores the problems of light pollution.

IDA has been working for nearly 25 years to raise awareness about the problems light pollution causes by drowning out the night sky.

Many of the issues IDA has been trying to make the public aware of will be brought up in the documentary, which starts airing on July 5, 2012.

"We are delighted to see Ian Cheney´s film get a national stage and hope that, before too much longer, many of the issues raised in the film will be behind us," IDA Executive Director Bob Parks said in a statement. "The good news is that with awareness, light pollution is an easy problem to solve."

The documentary covers a variety of aspects of light at night, and will include thoughts on how the viewing audience can be proactive in trying to free up stars more at night.

The film follows director Ian Cheney's personal exploration of the impact of light at night.

“We are thrilled to present ℠The City Dark´ on PBS´s amazing series POV, and what better week to air than the week of July 4th; perhaps the fireworks can serve as a reminder of all that glitters in an unpolluted starry sky, and encourage us all to do what we can to protect the night," Cheney said in a statement.

The documentary includes experts like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, writer Timothy Ferris, and cancer researcher David Blask.

Last year, Professor Robert Stencel of Denver University invited me to come up to the Meyer-Womble Observatory on Mt. Evans in Colorado to take a peek through their spectacular telescope.

While visiting with Dr. Bob at the observatory, he showed me how light pollution really drowns out the sky. From our vantage point on top of a 14,000-foot mountain, you can clearly see Denver and surrounding areas, as well as the light pollution those cities give off.

Professor Stencel pointed out how outlined the clouds were, which were being highlighted in the night sky due to light pollution. He said simple fixes could include switching street lights to a color like red or green, or even just adding covers over light bulbs to ensure the light points downward, and not upward.

One city he showed me was southwest of Denver, and without him pointing to it I would have never found it. The city had put covers on all of the lights, ensuring that it had a better night sky than surrounding cities.

On IDA's website, the organization offers plenty of lighting manufacturers that it approves of for helping to conserve the night sky.