Wednesday, 16 April 2008
The Wonder of Dark Skies
I picked up this photograph over on APOD. Just look at that sky - a photograph of the sky over the town of Flagstaff, Arizona - yes, that's right, this is a photograph of the sky over a large town.
In 2001, Flagstaff became the world's first International Dark Skies City. And, apparently, it isn't that hard to make our skies dark again. It is mainly a matter of thinking about the kinds of lighting we use - shielded street lights, more focussed billboard lighting - it's not rocket science, it just requires a bit of thought.
To show you what you could be seeing in the skies above your town or city if we got our lighting right, take a look at these photos, taken by Todd Carlson - the first during an electricity blackout near Toronto, the second once the power had been restored...
Why aren't we all jumping up and down to get our own skies looking like this? In the ten years since I moved to my rural location in the North of Scotland, the quality of my skies has become poorer as settlements in the surrounding area have grown. Maybe it's time I started trying to do something about the skies around here. If we can't have dark skies in the least densely populated part of the UK, what hope is there for anywhere else?
Find out more about dark skies and good lighting practice at
The International Dark Sky Association