7 hours ago
Airport Mesa Milky Way
Take one of our small towns in WV like Fayetteville, with a population of around 2,000 people. I can't see the Milky Way in downtown at night, and my camera, which is more sensitive to light, can't even pick up the Milky Way a few miles north at Hawks Nest. I struggle to capture it anywhere around the gorge due to the lights of either Fayetteville or Beckley. I can't see any stars some nights from my small hometown of Point Pleasant as they've added even brighter lights downtown. Yet this picture of the Milky Way was taken in Sedona, AZ with a population of 10,000 people right in the middle of town, while a near full moon was on the horizon. Why is that?
Sedona has worked since the early 2000's to replace their outdoor lighting with shielded lighting systems that are directed toward the ground and not wastefully scattered across the horizon, LED's that can dim when not in use, and lights that minimize blue light which contributes more to light pollution than warmer light. They were able to get grants to help fund the effort and make it easier for citizens and businesses to trade in the old lighting systems and comply with the new lighting ordinances. As a result, you can now see the stars from the city and the town has been designated as the 8th International Dark Sky Community in the world.
Why can't we do this in WV? I see towns taking the opposite approach, especially as new gas stations and businesses crop up vying to become the brightest beacon on the block to attract business. Research shows that more light does not deter crime and might actually have the opposite effect of increasing crime and reducing safety. 30% of all outdoor lighting is wasted by the use unshielded and inefficient lights, with an added cost of $3.3 billion and an additional 21 million tons of carbon dioxide release per year. Numerous studies have shown artificial light at night to have negative effects on wildlife and people. We could be doing this here in WV and promoting the state even more as a dark sky refuge, as it stands, we are instead losing the night sky... at Sedona, Arizona