Welcome to the Dark Skies Office
What We Do
Long exposure photography of the horizon from the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy. Sources of sky glow are identified.
Who Are We?
The Dark Skies Office at GLAS Education was launched in June 2021 to coordinate efforts to reduce light pollution in the Geneva Lake area. Using the data from GLAS Education’s LENSS project, we are working towards creating a measurable impact on sky quality. By understanding where we are, we can pave a road forward. Thanks to our sensor hosts, we will be able to craft a narrative about how bright Geneva Lake once was, and how our community came together to minimize artificial light pollution.
Working with policy-makers, local organizations, interns, students, and many volunteers, the Dark Skies Office is on its way towards reforming light ordinances and raising public awareness of the benefits of our shared resource: a truly dark sky.
Additionally, the Dark Skies Office is pursuing formal International Dark-Sky Association recognition as an Urban Night Sky Place for Williams Bay’s Kishwauketoe Nature Conservatory. An Urban Night Sky Place designation is awarded to places surrounded by large urban areas whose planning actively promotes the night sky despite the artificial light pollution nearby.
What is Light Pollution?
Light pollution occurs when light goes 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 reversible and can have immediate benefits when remediated. Four major types of light pollution are: skyglow, glare, light trespass, and clutter.
Lights from Chicago shine through clouds, which blocks the view of the night sky from the ground.
Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geography Image Collection
Types of Light Pollution?
Skyglow occurs when lights are directed upwards to the sky. This type of light pollution is often seen around cities, where the sky is noticeably brighter along a city horizon and celestial objects become invisible or obscured amongst a brightened sky.
Light trespass occurs when light from a fixture crosses property boundaries onto neighboring properties. One example of this is when street lights enter windows of residential homes, lighting up rooms in a home or keeping a resident awake, in addition to or rather than lighting the road.
Clutter is an excessive use of lights to illuminate the same feature. This could be the numerous highway lights or streetlights that occur in rapid succession, so much so that the light from each fixture overlaps with the light from the previous fixture.
Effects of Light Pollution?
Energy & Money
As much as 50% of outdoor lighting in the US is wasted by sending light into the night sky, which is about $2.2 billion every year.
Exposure to artificial light can result in a drop of melatonin production and can disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can hinder sleep leading to increased anxiety, stress, and exhaustion.
Light pollution accounts for 21,000,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, contributing to our climate crisis. Outdoor lighting itself contributes to 70% of light pollution. Lights also disorient wildlife, including fireflies, birds, bats, and frogs, that rely on it for communication and navigation. Light pollution also prevents observation of the night sky.
Reducing Light Pollution?
Astrotourism highlights the local natural resource of stargazing. Dark sky places create opportunities for residents from light-polluted areas to observe the Milky Way. This is a highly sought after experience that allows us to recognize that we share a linked human existence. Funding is available for the creation of dark sky places and it is a great opportunity to spread awareness of light pollution. Currently, there are about 200 certified International Dark Sky Places including the existing Newport State Park Dark Sky Place and upcoming Kickapoo Valley Dark Sky and the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy Urban Night Sky Place.
Interested in Dark Skies?
If you are interested in supporting this mission, please contact your mayor, village president or town board chairman and ask that they consider local dark sky ordinances to limit light pollution in our communities. To learn more about how you can reduce light pollution and support our skies, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or visit https://www.darksky.org
GLAS in the News!
In 2020 GLAS was featured on CBS 58 Madison for our work on the LENSS project. We walked through what dark skies means to us and how we plan to manage it here in the Geneva Lake community! Click on the image to see the full piece by Michael Schlesinger and the team at CBS 58.