Celebrating Dark Skies

Earth at Night
A view of the Earth compiled from nighttime shots from the DMSP satellites, image credit NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Here on the Big Island we are fortunate to have very dark skies. Skies from which the stars shine brightly. This is not the case for so many, people who live where city lights have drowned out the glory of the universe in a haze of artificial light.

So often I talk to visitors who come from places where they might see a mere handful of stars. To live in or worse, to grow up in a major metropolitan area, is to lose the beauty that is our night sky. To lose the view of our universe is to reduce that vast universe to just our everyday world. You lose the imagination and sense of wonder that can change everything.

Maybe I am weird, I make a point to get out and spend nights under a dark sky. With a telescope I pass the night looking into the vastness of space. With that experience comes a broader understanding of the scale of our universe and our place within it. To see the galaxies, to know what they are, to gain a glimmer of understanding, it changes your view of who and what we are.

To me this is precious.

Light pollution may be an issue few understand. It has many consequences… Vast amounts of wasted energy and money, impacts on our health and the health of our natural environment. There are many reasons to minimize the impact of artificial lighting. Of these reasons, it is the loss of the starry night sky that can sever our connection to the universe.

This week is International Dark Skies Week. Take a moment to look up at the night sky and understand what you may have have lost.

The Magnificent Night Sky: How to Protect It from Keck Observatory on Vimeo.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

One thought on “Celebrating Dark Skies”

  1. It’s definitely not weird to lay under the stars. Especially in a very dark environment. I miss those days when I could do that on the farm. Would LOVE to do it on the Big Island though! Very jealous.

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