[Darksky]Living in the Light and PA LP Bill, [OL-Forum] Digest N. 341 (fwd)

Jan Hollan
Tue, 18 Dec 2001 08:28:43 +0100 (CET)

A wonderful text by John Gilkison,
and a Pennsylvania new law...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 24 Nov 2001 11:55:30 -0000
From: OutdoorLighting-ForumAyahoogroups...
To: OutdoorLighting-ForumAyahoogroups...
Subject: [OL-Forum] Digest Number 341

"The largest uncensored and most active non-geographic based forum on light pollution."

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There are 2 messages in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

      1. Living In The Light
           From: John Gilkison <jgilkisoAzianet...>
      2. Fw: [pa-lights] PA Light Pollution Bill Unanimously Passes in House!!!!
           From: "Karolyn Beebe" <keedosAearthlink...>


Message: 1
   Date: (unknown)
   From: John Gilkison <jgilkisoAzianet...>
Subject: Living In The Light

                    LIVING IN THE LIGHT

 It is a commonly held belief that the citizen living in the city with
street lights and security lights is living in the light,  that the
astronomer, the naturalist living in the country without outdoor lighting is
living in the 
dark. A more false and thoroughly wrong proposition could not exist.
 It is the citizen living in the cities under the lights who is actually
living in the dark with respect to the rest of the universe. It is this
citizen who is denied the vast panoramas of the land, the sky, and the stars.
 For more then a decade I have been working in the city in the evening and
traveling to my home in the country late at night. This gives me with a
weekly comparative study of the difference between this impoverished
artificially lighted city environment and the richness of a naturally lit
country skies.
 In the city even on a clear night with no Moon in the sky one can only see
a few dozen stars. In the country even with a Full Moon one can still see a
few hundred stars. When the moon is absent from  country skies one can see
our home galaxy the Milky Way as well as over two thousand stars.
 From the city unless the sky is completely overcast with clouds one can not
even discern sky conditions. Many nights my only clue to cloudiness is the
absence of stars, but upon arriving at my country home only to find the sky
full of stars but it being partially cloudy. If it is completely overcast,
the city dweller is treated to a view of garishly lighted pink clouds. Thus
citizens are even being robbed of a view of  weather condition in their tax
supported over lighted cities.
 In 910 AD an Arabian astronomer plotted a unearthly cloud on his star
charts known as Al Sufi's hazy spot. It is in fact  Andromeda Galaxy the
nearest spiral galaxy like our own. At more then 2.2 million light years
distant, this galaxy the most distant object that can be seen with the naked
eye. When pointing out Andromeda Galaxy I like to tell our National Public
Observatory star party attendees that without a street light they can see
2.2 million light years, but with one they can only see a few hundred feet.
 Another object which can  reward the  observer is a globular star cluster 
known as Omega Centaurus. These clusters can contain up to a million stars
gravitationally bound together into a spherical ball which is orbiting our
galaxy. Less then two hundred are known, but only this one is plainly visible 
to the unaided eye.
 Our vistas toward the center of our galaxy is similarly awesome lying some
23 thousand light years distant in a area of the sky known as Sagittarius.
a Messier object known as the Lagoon Nebula is plainly visible. Distant star
clouds which look like talcum power in binoculars interlaced with dark
nebula await the observer who knows where, when, and how to look.
 A partial list of other delights that await the  dark sky observer have to
include open clusters, variable stars, nebula, and yes even Moon Dogs. These
subtleties elude the city dweller in their artificially brightened skies.
 In 1997 when Comet Hykatakue graced our skies I often was ask by people
where and when to look for the comet. I would tell them only to hear back
they could not see it, or at best seen only a hazy spot. At home  I could
plainly see the head of the comet in Ursa Major with a tail that stretched
across a third of 
the sky. This awesome sight was denied to our enlightened city dwellers. 
 Humanity survived for many millennia with a sky that got dark after sunset
each day. In only a few generations we have undone this natural wonder and
come to prefer our over lit cities and increasingly even our brightening
country skies. We, and future generations are losing one of our greatest
natural heritages and will be aesthetically and spiritually poorer for it.


John Gilkison
President, National 
Public Observatory


Message: 2
   Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 19:21:15 -0600
   From: "Karolyn Beebe" <keedosAearthlink...>
Subject: Fw: [pa-lights] PA Light Pollution Bill Unanimously Passes in House!!!!

From: <ghonisAepix...>
To: <pa-lightsAyahoogroups...>
hSent: Friday, November 23, 2001 6:00 PM
Subject: [pa-lights] PA Light Pollution Bill Unanimously Passes in

> A very Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!
> An what a happy day it was to get the news from POLC member Stan
> Stubbe, that PA House Bill 300 has passed in the PA House by a
> unanimous vote of 195 to 0!!!
> Thanks to all of you that contacted your local representatives for
> support of the bill.  The bill will now go the Senate where we will
> again need to be actively involved in light pollution education
> efforts.
> For more information, see the press release "House Passes Smith's
> Night Sky Legislation" at:
> http://www.pahousegop.com/press/November01/BSmith_11_19_01.htm
> The text of the bill as amended on November 13, 2001 is at:
> http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2001/0/HB0300P2860.HTM
> Dark Skies,
> Gary Honis
> Assistant Director-GHAAS
> Member-POLC
> Member-IDA


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