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Update on Lights Out in Ottawa

Julian Avenue experienced its one night of no lights. It would have been interesting to see how well people adapted to the dark after a whole month. The month-long art show and community festival to celebrate the night sky, called Nuit Noire will go on until the end of July.

For this one night, Julian Avenue went dark and people who came to experience it were treated to a star filled sky, something unheard of in any city.

Mississippi Mills in nearby Almonte is cited as a municipality who has adopted dark sky friendly lighting bylaws. Light pollution is something more and more people are becoming aware of and talking about. Don Monet, the organizer of Nuit Noire even invited Prince William and Kate because Prince Charles is an advocate of the dark sky movement. They were in Montreal, however, and could not attend.

Astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society were on hand, however, with telescopes and expertise about the stars that finally came out after an unfortunate cloud cover cleared. When you only have one night to see the stars, you don’t want the clouds messing things up!

The Canadian Space Agency promotes dark sky lighting, which is really just less lighting and smarter lighting with lights going down instead of up. They say, “light pollution arises from careless and often misguided exterior night lighting practices. Light pollution wastes energy, causes hazardous glare, increases the production of greenhouse gases and compromises public safety.”

As repeated time and again on these pages, overly bright light does not create a more secure environment, in fact the opposite is true. Bright lights create blinding glare so we are less likely to see trouble in the shadows where it can hide.

When our nights are no longer turned into day, our eyes can once again adapt to the dark and we will be more aware of our surroundings. This is not to say that we should turn off our lights completely forever, but it is to be noted that we can do a much better job of lighting up our nighttime environments.