Light Pollution

The difference between a light polluted sky and a naturally dark one is astounding. The effects of city lights are more far-reaching than many people realize. Simply heading far away from an urban area isn’t enough to find dark skies. The combined light pollution of many small or medium-sized towns adds skyglow high above the horizon. Mines, dams, fracking wells, and other sources spoil the night skies of even sparsely populated areas. Humidity, dust, or smoke in the air only amplifies the problem. Unfortunately newer LED lighting has not lead to decreased energy usage, but only more lights and brighter lights.

Aside from hampering stargazers and astronomical research, light pollution has other ill effects as well. The waste of energy is enormous. It disrupts circadian rhythms, worsens sleep, and has been linked to other health problems. Wildlife becomes disoriented and confused. Excessive street lighting is perceived as increasing safety, but it actually does the opposite.

Los Angeles from above

The loss of awe, wonder, and inspiration from staring at a sky full of stars cannot be overstated. This is something that our ancestors enjoyed throughout history, but we have deprived ourselves of. The night sky should not belong only to the lucky few living in rural areas, but to everyone. Visit the photography page for more dark sky views.

Skyglow from Denver reaches far into the Rocky Mountains to the west

This website was created not only to help people find the few dark skies left, but also to raise awareness of the problem. It’s hard to know what you’re missing out on until you’ve seen it for yourself. In some ways light pollution is easy to fix, because there is nothing permanent about it. Unlike other forms of pollution, it does not remain in the environment once it’s shut off. 


Between Chicago and Milwaukee, this is as dark as skies get (RBSRA)

Security lights at Fort Peck Dam, Montana


Before installing that bright security light, ask if it’s really necessary. Many fixtures are simply way brighter than they need to be. If outdoor lighting must be used, it should be shielded properly, directed towards the ground instead of up into the sky. A timer is always better than keeping lights on all night long. Better yet are motion sensors, so lights are only on when needed.

Visit International Dark Sky Association for more tips on how to reduce light pollution.

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