Daniel Feng is working on projects to help a local community and a spiritual retreat in northern Wisconsin to evaluate their needs for responsible lighting. Daniel is an intern working on GLAS Education’s Dark Skies Office project. Its goals are to reduce light pollution and promote healthy Dark Skies around the state.

Over a weekend in July, Daniel joined Kate Meredith, GLAS Education director, and Zach Meredith, GLAS Education staff member, on a visit to the Christine Center retreat in Willard, a community in northern Wisconsin. Kate has been attending the retreat over the past 20 years. Kate has urged the owners of the retreat to take steps to protect its dark northern Wisconsin skies. Daniel said the retreat is writing a grant to pay for new lighting. Daniel and Kate spent two hours on a hot day doing inventory on the lights on the retreat grounds and buildings. Later Daniel did nighttime measurements of light outputs and the their effects on the ground and the sky above.

Daniel found examples of over lighting and lights that directed their beams skyward. He also noted that in some cases, lighting failed to do what was intended. For example, signs around the retreat’s grounds were generally poorly lit. Daniel talked with the retreat staff and gave examples of Dark Sky-friendly lighting that the retreat might consider installing. He is preparing a written set of lighting recommendations for the Christine Center.

Daniel also did a light survey in the nearby Walworth County community of Sharon. He spoke with Village Administrator Susan Steele who seemed enthusiastic about the survey. Steele indicated the village board would be interested in Dark Sky lighting to encourage Astro-tourism. Daniel said that the lighting in the village is particularly poor. Although a rural community with no large urban areas nearby, the downtown has so much skyglow that the night sky is almost invisible from the village streets due to street lighting. He will have to survey the architectural lighting later. Daniel is preparing a presentation for the village board to show the advantages of Dark Sky friendly lighting and how Astro-tourism can be a revenue enhancer for the village.

Not everyone in Sharon was up on the Dark Sky work. Daniel and fellow intern Charlie Carvajal were stopped by a Sharon police officer while doing the street light survey in front of a village ice cream shop. Daniel explained that they were doing the survey on behalf of GLAS Education. The officer asked for identification, but GLAS Education has no official ID card. Daniel used his smart phone, showing the officer emails between himself and the village administrator. The officer let the two interns continue their survey.

Light pollution occurs when light exists where it is not intended and is an issue of growing concern in many parts of the world.  Unlike other types of pollution, light pollution is easily and quickly reversible and can have near immediate benefits when remediated.

Learn more about our Dark Skies Office Project here: https://glaseducation.org/dark-sky-office/

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