Welcome to the Dark Skies Office

What We Do

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 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. There are four major types of light pollution: skyglow, glare, light trespass, and clutter.

Nighttime aerial photo through clouds of unidentified city aglow with urban lighting.Lights from Chicago shine through clouds, which could cause many problems.

Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geography Image Collection

Types of Light Pollution?

Silhouette of cityscape against a dark night sky.

Skyglow

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.

Graphic showing the effects of different kinds of automobile headlights.

Glare

Glare occurs when light is emitted horizontally, which can be blinding to passersby. The most common example of glare is car headlights coming toward the viewer on the opposite side of the road. This type of light pollution is dangerous because it can cause temporary blindness, which becomes more difficult to recover from as eyes age.
Graphic showing two-story house next to a shielded light source at night.

Light Trespass

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.

Graphic showing effect of shielding night time lighting.

Clutter

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.

Human Health

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.

Environment

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 that relies on it for communication and navigation including fireflies, birds, bats, and frogs. Also, light pollution prevents communities from observing the night sky.

Reducing Light Pollution?

Graphic showing how to reduce light pollution with the proper lighting and shielding.
A pair of spiral galaxies in a black sky surrounded by a field of stars.
This is a photo of the Whirlpool galaxy that was taken on a telescope from our star observing nights

Astrotourism

Astrotourism highlights the local natural resource of stargazing. It creates opportunities for residents from light-polluted areas to observe the Milky Way. This natural phenomena 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 tthe Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy Urban Night Sky Place.

See our summer interns at work!
Young woman standing at desk in blue T-shirt, young woman sitting at desk in UMass sweatshirt, young man in blue T-shirt, sitting , smiling and looking back at the camera and young man in black baseball cap and dark gray shirt looking away from camera holding plastic square

Interested in Dark Skies?

If you are interested in supporting this mission, please call your mayor or town council and ask them to write a letter of support!

To learn more about how you can reduce light pollution and support our skies, contact us at contact@glaseducation.org and/or visit https://www.darksky.org