The article in the Pacific Standard “Starry Starry Skies,” announced that Borrego Springs, California had become the second “Dark-Sky Community” in the world designated by the International Dark-Sky Association thanks to the collective efforts of a community. Thanks to their commitment, the view of the Milky Way will remain visible in the dark skies of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for all to enjoy. The community’s willingness to acknowledge the unfortunate effects of light pollution and take action has created a night sky preserve that the public can gather to observe every year.
By gaining the Dark Sky Community designation, the community of Borrego Springs has emphasized their view that the night sky is a natural resource in need of protection. Working towards the Dark-Sky Community designation is a privilege available to any city. Education is imperative to increase awareness and provide the necessary knowledge to take action. Understanding helps a community make the right choice in the measures they decide to implement. Because it takes the collective efforts of many people, measures to reduce light pollution can begin at the individual level.
There are procedures that homeowners can take to reduce light pollution that are relatively simple and inexpensive. Replacing existing lights with lower watt, energy efficient bulbs are an excellent place to start. A general rule of thumb is to make sure that lights are pointed downward. Making sure that light fixtures have a shield over them to avoid unnecessary light shining upwards is very important, because light aimed at the sky obstructs the view of the night sky.
Light trespass occurs when lights from a neighboring property enters another household or back yard causing undue stress or disturbance. Installing motion detector lights is an excellent alternative to lighting systems that remain on all night. Using a timer on lights is another effective option in preventing excess light from disturbing the natural night sky and the well-being of others. An immediate fix is to simply turn off lights that are too bright. Switching off lights at a decent hour is considerate, and an obvious way to avoid light trespass. By using these simple measures, not only is light pollution reduced, but light trespass is also avoided. The end result is happier neighbors, less energy waste and reduced light pollution.