Press Release: Protecting Dark Skies for Astronomy and Life

Press Release: Protecting Dark Skies for Astronomy and Life Image

Photo by Jordi Busqué ( of the AURA Observatory International Dark Sky Sanctuary, Chile.

Below is the Press Release that was released on January 6th by the Lowell Observatory and National Optical Astronomy Observatory. John Barentine, IDA’s Program Manager, participated in the AAS Workshop in Grapevine, TX.


Artificial light glow is a threat to astronomical research, personal safety, and the health of both humans and wildlife, and the problem is worsening with the proliferation of LED billboards and blue light LEDs as an option for street lighting. Within five years, LED technology will take over as the dominant type of outdoor lighting. With this in mind, scientists and lighting engineers say now is the time to implement strategies for reducing the artificial light glow problem. By working together, they are identifying the best type of LED to use while suggesting actions that minimize superfluous lighting.

Meeting in Grapevine, Texas at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), representatives from several western America observatories led a workshop with other dark sky advocates, including a lighting engineer. The workshop showcased successful outcomes with real “before” and “after” data and an expectation that going forward, future venues can achieve this end goal.

Addressing the inevitable increase in the use of LED lighting, participants identified three factors that are important to minimizing sky glow: shielding, brightness, and color of the light. Ideal fixtures allow light to point downward—to sidewalks, for instance—but block light from pointing toward the sky. Dimmer lights—resulting in less peripheral light spread—are preferred, while the color of the light is also important; scientists have shown that blue-rich light increases glare (thus inhibiting vision), has a greater geographical spread than light with less blue, and adversely affect wildlife behavior.

1 2 3 4