Locked Re: Our blinding blaring world

Emilio J. Robau, P.E.

Very sad indeed.   My neighborhood in Montana is a standard type of suburban neighborhood.  It is located in Big Sky.  There are 65 lots all within view of each other and the sizes range from 0.4 to about an acre in size.  I am on the HOA board and we manage about 275 acres of open space and then beyond that there are neighborhoods and beyond that, the majesty of Yellowstone, the Spanish Peaks and the Gallatin Range.   A few hundred feet below us is the town center which does have a glow to it.   However, what is very interesting is that without much prodding, our neighborhood is pitch black at night.  No one keeps their porch lights on or any other lights for that matter.  We have no street lights and basically you can see when someone switches their lights on within the individual rooms within the house.  I think that once you loose the view of the night sky, no one seems to give a crap.   Everyone just adds to the pollution without giving it a second thought.

Now in my neighborhood in SW Florida we are at the end of the light cone and I look at a darker area between the Keys and Everglades National Park.  I have lived there for about 30 years and have seen the progression of pollution imported by individuals who are building gigantic homes and are generally from the NE united states and the Midwest.  Lately, New Jersey and New York has generally moved to our neighborhood in mass, not really caring what they pay for the real estate.  At night they light up the houses and landscapes as if they were hotels and shopping centers.   If it is a new house, they light the entire thing up including every mango and palm tree.  If it was an older house, they renovate it and light up all the landscaping.  Some of the individuals contribute heavily to the preservation of our native listed species, the gopher turtle and the borrowing owl.  Yet, they don't have any appreciation for the night sky.  So weird.  Once you loose sight of the night sky (pun intended) you loose all sense of what it is supposed to look like and it seems you really don't care.  I don't know what to do about it and often dream of sending out a flyer indicating that there is an astrophotographer in their midst that appreciates the night sky and wants to try and preserve it.  Alternatively I think of creating a municipal service tax district and tearing down the existing street lights and installing something lower to the ground with less spillage.  I have thought of speaking to City Council about the issue and outright placing restrictions on landscape lighting.  I have been thinking of utilizing and excuse that we are blinding the freaking owls.   No one would seem to care if I simply said, we are loosing what little we have of our night sky.  Most people think that a well lit area is safer, and that is just not true in suburban areas.

I am disgusted and don't quite know what to do about it except maybe leaving S. Florida and some will say good riddance, we don't need kooks complaining about dark skies.  However for better or worse, we have been there for a long long time and raised our kids there.   So sorry to see the differential behavior in the two areas.  Basically once you lose the skies, it seems to be impossible to get them back and if you live in a dark area, I think you have a chance at preserving the skies.

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