We are losing (or have already lost) one of our greatest natural assets: Dark skies.
Starry nights are becoming a thing of the past and the few stars we do see are dim relics of their former beauty. The causes are numerous, but the problem is getting worse.
It is time for action.
We need to tell our political representatives that we want our nights back. In Rock Hill, they passed an ordinance that all new city lighting is to be shrouded and those new lights do a great job of giving night vision.
Rather than the old, glaring lights that blind you and make it difficult to see, these new ones have minimal glare and actually improve your night vision while using less electricity.
Then there are the private lights that people use to light up their parking lots for protection. These are typically unshielded street lights aimed right into the eyes of passersby. Is there no courtesy here?
The real problem may be that we have accepted this and assume that there are only a dozen stars in the sky. It has been so long since I've seen the Milky Way I can't remember what it looks like.
In a visit to Lake Keowee and sat out on the shore late at night with my daughter. One million stars were glittering overhead. The Milky Way poured across the night sky like cream across so many diamonds. Shooting stars flittered past in an endless parade.
I enjoyed it, but my daughter was inspired and has decided that she now wants to move to a dark sky location. She plans on going to the University of Arizona and then become an astronomer.
She now reads endlessly about black holes, super nova, and general astronomy. Did you know that for their life of a few seconds, gamma ray bursts produce more energy than everything else in the universe put together!
Ah, but I digress. We must get our night skies back. All it takes is a letter to the editor (or a nature story). Or even better, how about writing a letter to a county councilman, senator, or congressman?
With energy getting so expensive, who can afford to pay for all of these bright lights any way? What purpose do they have?
So we have given up. We don't remember what a starry night or the Milky Way looks like and we pay the highest electricity rates to the rich power companies for lights they tell us we need.
No, I say, it is time to tell our politicians we want our dark skies back!