According to a recent article in The Carthage Press, the citizens of Carthage have been given a choice. Enjoy the 3000 stars that can be viewed with the naked eye over Carthage, or the fuzzy haze of city lights.
Backyard astronomer Dr. Chad Wagoner hopes that the citizens of Carthage will choose the renewal of the night sky that has since vanished from view due to light pollution. Dr. Wagoner is a physician who enjoys views of the night time sky in his backyard observatory. He hopes to add Carthage to the growing list of International Dark-Sky communities. The International Dark-Sky Association helps preserve and protect the night sky from light pollution generated by cities and towns.
According to the article, the hazy city lights of a Carthage night yields few stars even without a full moon. Wagoner’s view of the night sky has improved clarity because he lives outside the city limits where there is less light pollution. However, the light intruding on the nighttime sky increases with the growth of the city. Dr. Wagoner reminisces about how the night sky once appeared when he was young.
The McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital of Carthage uses shielded lights in their parking lot. Use of this type of lighting dramatically reduces light pollution. This initiative is an excellent example to inspire others to become stewards of the environment. Inspiration has also led to action. Legislation is before the Missouri House of Representatives that will educates communities and develop state guidelines regarding light pollution.
Not only is light pollution unattractive, it also has other disadvantages. As mentioned in the article, light pollution decreases driver safety and increases energy cost. Simple upgrades to lighting can save taxpayer dollars, improve driver safety, and preserve the view of the nighttime sky for astronomers and stargazers everywhere. As he scans the night sky from his backyard observatory, Dr. Wagoner looks forward to Missouri recognizing a starlight preserve near his home town in the coming years.