Are you interested in combating light pollution? International Dark Sky Week, which starts today, offers events in which you can learn how.

Lights of Tucson
City lights erase all but the brightest objects in the night sky, as seen in this photo of Tucson, Arizona.
Bettymaya Foott

Light pollution is “the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light,” according to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), the leading champion in the fight to preserve dark skies. This pollution comes in many forms: the interior and exterior lighting of buildings, advertising billboards, sports stadiums, factories, streetlights, commercial properties . . . the list goes on.

Until the recently, humanity — and nature — lived according to the ebb and flow of sunrises and sunsets, with nighttime landscapes illuminated solely by the gentle light of the Moon and the stars. We slept when it was dark and rose with the Sun. With the advent of electricity and 24-hour lighting, we’ve lost touch with our circadian rhythms.

A groundbreaking 2016 study found that a whopping 80% of the world’s population lives with the consequences of skyglow, the brightening of the night sky due to street and house lights. If you live in the United States or Europe, you're likely worse off: Skyglow and other detrimental effects of light pollution hide the Milky Way from an eye-watering 99% of the population. Visit NASA's Blue Marble Navigator to see at a glance how bad light pollution is in your area.

International Dark Sky Week 2022
The quality of your night sky depends a lot on the lighting in your environment. Much outdoor lighting at night is inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and sometimes completely unnecessary. The light and the electricity used to create it are being wasted because it spills into the sky rather than being focused on the objects and areas that people need illuminated.
International Dark Sky Association

Light pollution doesn’t only blot out the wonders of the universe. It also severely disrupts wildlife and the ecosystem — nocturnal creatures become confused, birds fly into windows, it even affects the growth patterns of trees, besides also harming our health.  

Organizations such as the IDA are heavily invested in preserving our night skies and in raising awareness on the harmful effects of light pollution. And the IDA specifically encourages you to get involved in their efforts during International Dark Sky Week. Here's how you can do so.

Discover the Night

This year, International Dark Sky Week kicks off on April 22nd, which also happens to be Earth Day, and is scheduled to culminate with the new Moon on April 30th.

The purpose is simple: to highlight the negative — and sometimes downright harmful — consequences of light pollution. But it’s also a platform for fostering inspiration, to encourage seeking solutions, and ultimately, to celebrate the night.

International Dark Sky Week 2022
Light pollution harms mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and reptiles. It can decrease reproduction, disrupt migration, increase predation, and more.
International Dark Sky Association

This upcoming week is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about light pollution, what the IDA and like-minded organizations do to raise awareness, and what you can do to help by attending events (both in-person and virtual).

Dark sky site Bryce Canyon
The IDA invites you to "Discover the Night" during International Dark Sky Week, which has been running since 2003 when then-high-school student Jennifer Barlow from Midlothian, Virginia, kickstarted the event. National Dark Sky Week, as it was then, has since ballooned into the international event celebrated around the world today, now coordinated by the IDA.
Bettymaya Foott
  • Participate in a Scavenger Hunt! Grab your family and friends and see how many items you can find on the IDA card during the week — use the markup tool on your phone (a pen or marker on a paper copy will also do). Find them all? The IDA will send you an assortment of stickers after you fill out their form.
  • Spread the word on your own social media accounts. If you do, be sure to use the official event hashtags: #DiscovertheNight, #IDSW2022, #DarkSkyWeek. Do you have your own website? That would be a great place to blog about International Dark Sky Week, the IDA, and ongoing efforts to mitigate light pollution.
  • Be bold, go bigger: Contact your local radio and television stations and inform them of this week — inspire them to discuss light pollution and its harmful effects in one of their regular scheduled programs.

During the Week and Beyond

International Dark Sky Week is a good place to kick-start your light-pollution-combating efforts. You could start by inventorying your home lighting to ensure you have the right types of bulb and avoid contributing to light trespass, unnecessary light that spills from your property into your neighborhood. Check out the IDA’s recommendations for Responsible Outdoor Lighting.

International Dark Sky Week 2022
If you're interested in taking a proactive stance, here are some tips for actions you can take to preserve the darkness of the night sky. You can start close to home by examining what type of lighting you use, and swap out inappropriate fixtures for those recommended by the IDA.
International Dark Sky Association

You can also be proactive locally. You'll find advice on how to approach a neighbor to discuss their lighting. Just remember: Always be polite. Visit the IDA’s Public Outreach website to find material such as brochures, infographics, and videos that you can share in your community and with your friends and family.

Take on a more active role and join the IDA Advocate Network. After following a few preliminary steps you’ll be invited to join the IDA’s global communication platform, which will give you access to exclusive resources as well as opportunities to learn more about dark sky conservation.

Your efforts needn’t come to an end on April 30th. Combating light pollution is an ongoing, global endeavor — and it might even become a lifetime passion for you.

But first, turn off the light, step outdoors, and watch the night sky turn on.



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