“Star gazing is 50 percent vision and 50 percent imagination,” says my favorite astronomer, Chet Raymo. And maybe another 50 percent knowledge. The more you know, the more you can see. On a clear dark night in Salt Lake City, or Chicago, or Boston you can maybe see 50 stars, probably more like 25. The sky is washed out by light pollution and it is the sky most of us see if ever we look up. But we evolved under the stars of pollution free skies and on a clear dark night high on the Colorado Plateau there are still thousands of stars visible. Here the light of the Milky Way can be enough to cast a shadow. All the same, the stars we can see are a tiny fraction of the 100 billion in the galaxy. On nights like these the scene above seems to reach down to shake my sleeping natural soul awake and beg my mind to look up and see, to stand and see with imagination.
One of the hidden delights of large, underpopulated, undeveloped places is the prospect for clear dark nights, free of light pollution. The Colorado Plateau is one darkest places left in the 48 states. The Leonid meteor showers are coming up. Steve Owen of Dark Sky Diary can tell you more. . . . more>>
The Colorado Plateau has some of the most light pollution free dark skies in the continental U.S. On a dark Plateau night, the Milky Way casts a shadow. Dark nights may not feel intuitively like a resource worth protecting, but on this blog by Jaymi Heimbuch of treehugger.com, youthful photographer Ben Canales captures some of the grandeur and wonder of a dark, starry night with his camera. In a (somewhat long winded) attached video he even will show you how. . . . more>>
International Dark Sky Park
In 2006 the International Dark-skies Association designated a small park in Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument, as the world’s first International Dark-sky Park, thereby setting the bar incredibly high for those parks that wanted to follow suit. The skies above Natural Bridges are amongst the darkest in the USA. Once a source of wonder–and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment—the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Protecting the dark skies of Utah is one of my passions, we recently created a Colorado Plateau Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association which is holding it’s second annual Heritage Dark Sky Festival in Torrey this coming weekend.
Read more about Steve Owens, a Brit who has received a traveling fellowship to visit and report on all the dark sky parks starting with Natural Bridges. Why waste a dark sky? . . . more>>