International Dark Sky Week
April 6, 2013

Celebrate International Dark Sky Week And Help Eradicate Light Pollution

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) is kicking off this weekend in an attempt to show the world just how dark our skies can be without light pollution.

The International Dark-Sky Association´s (IDA) week long festivities began on April 5 and continue through April 11. The week is designed to promote ways to help put a dent in light pollution, such as directing light downward instead of up towards the sky, which washes out the stars at night. According to the organization, the goals of IDSW are to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and raise awareness of how poor-quality lighting creates light pollution.

Dark Sky said there are many ways to participate in International Dark Sky Week, including checking around the home to see if there are ways to minimize lighting beyond your property lines.

"Use light only when needed. Motion detectors and timers can help. Use only the amount of illumination you need; try reducing lamp wattage," Dark Sky said. "Talk to neighbors. Explain that poorly shielded fixtures waste energy, produce glare and reduce visibility."

The organization also suggests throwing a star party, or attending a public event put on by local astronomy clubs, where they may be offering the chance to look through telescopes.

A study published in 2009 highlighted just how much light pollution affects how much we are missing out on in the night-sky. The team had 1,829 members of the public count stars in the constellation of Orion. Just 2 percent of the respondents said they were able to see more than 30 stars, while 54 percent said they saw fewer than 10. However, there are about 50 stars in the constellation that could be seen with the naked eye in a truly dark sky.

There are still some places on Earth that really give a great picture of what Earth's sky looked like before electricity was invented. IDA designated Death Valley National Park as the largest International Dark Sky Park in the world. The organization gave the park a "Gold Tier" status, which is awarded only to places that offer some of the darkest locations in the world.

“Death Valley´s night skies are a thing of beauty that everyone should have a chance to see. We hope that the action the park has taken to preserve the night sky within its borders will inspire surrounding communities to follow their example,” said IDA Executive Director Bob Parks.

Celebrate this week by doing all you can to get back the skies that generations before us once had.