SaddleBrooke is fortunate to have dark nighttime skies to view the stars and other amazing objects such as the emission nebula “Thor’s Helmet” shown above. April 5 to April 12 is International Dark Sky Week in which communities around the world celebrate the opportunity to view the night sky while also emphasizing the destructive nature of light pollution. It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences to all living things. The SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club joins the International Dark Sky Association to help members of our community understand that light pollution not only inhibits our view of the night sky, but also disrupts wildlife, impacts human health, wastes money and energy, and contributes to climate change.
It is important to note that not all light is polluting, and “effective outdoor lighting” does NOT mean NO lighting. Light for safety, security and convenience can all be incorporated in an outdoor lighting plan if accomplished in accordance with Pinal County and SaddleBrooke ALC guidelines. SaddleBrooke is a “Low Ambient Light Zone” and the ordinances we have in place were written to accommodate the numerous Astronomy research facilities around the Tucson area, many of which are supported by the University of Arizona. Obviously, we have no streetlights or glaring video billboards here in SaddleBrooke. Our homes and facilities were originally constructed to incorporate the low ambient outdoor designs required by ordinances. Effective outdoor lighting typically consists of the lowest ambient levels appropriate for the need, downward pointing fixtures and lighting with minimum glare that does not trespass into a neighbor’s area. Unfortunately, over time some of our residents have replaced those low-light fixtures with open, bright fixtures and high luminosity bulbs. If you live near one of those residents, their bright lights might be invading your surroundings.
To help others better understand the adverse effects of obtrusive light, invite your neighbors to join you some evening to look up at the night sky and enjoy what light pollution is currently threatening. Although we have relatively good skies here in SaddleBrooke, research has shown that approximately 80 percent of the world’s population live under sky glow and residents in those areas cannot observe more than a few bright stars at night, if any at all. Unfortunately, as our population increases, so does the impact of increasing light levels. Below is a short video source that illustrates the effects of light pollution on our night sky and offers solutions. As the video explains, transitioning to effective lighting produces immediate results by reducing the offending light.
To learn more, visit https://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/.
As part of the International Dark Sky Week events, Oracle Stare Park is hosting a Dark Sky Night on Saturday, April 10 beginning at 7 p.m. Because of the continued health issues, the evening is being conducted virtually and will consist of music, speakers and a virtual star party conducted by members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. The Star Party will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. The event can be viewed at any of the following sites:
- the Arizona State Parks Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5d18r1KJmFQAxbx6ioT5lQ
If interested in the SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club or the International Dark Sky Association, information can be obtained by emailing Sam Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.