If you live in a big city or even a nearby suburb, consider what you see when look up into the night sky. For more and more of the world, stars and constellations are no longer visible at night. Instead, the sky is a blank haze. Light pollution, or the artificial brightening of the night sky, has hidden the beauty of the stars. It disrupts the natural rhythms of animal and insect species, and may threaten human health, as well.
Some light pollution is an inevitable part of industrialization. Modern society is a 24-hour affair. We come and go long after the sun has set, enjoying the freedom that widespread electric lighting has brought us. But that doesn’t mean we’re stuck with the overly bright sky we have now. We can change the way we light up the night.
Dark Sky Lighting Strategies
Dark sky lighting is a method of reducing light pollution by improving exterior lights. There are two steps to cutting the amount of light you project into the sky.
First, don’t use more light than you need. According to the International Dark Sky Association, many home owners and community leaders are using too many lights and lights that are too bright. “The idea that more light always results in better safety and security is a myth,” reads an IDSA guideline sheet. “One needs only the right amount of light, in the right place, at the right time. More light often means wasted light and energy.” Too much light can cause glare and actually make it more difficult to see at night, not to mention wasting energy and driving up electricity bills.
Second, use the right kind of light fixtures. As National Geographic Magazine explained in 2008, “Light pollution is largely the result of bad lighting design, which allows artificial light to shine outward and upward into the sky, where it’s not wanted, instead of focusing it downward, where it is.” If an outdoor lamp is intended to illuminate a pathway so pedestrians don’t trip and fall, why let the light go up into the sky where it’s wasted? Dark sky fixtures direct the light down, minimizing light pollution.
Communities Adopt Dark Sky Ordinances
Some people install dark sky fixtures on their own initiative, but it’s also common for cities and neighborhoods to pass outdoor lighting ordinances. From California to New Hampshire, light laws may require dark-sky friendly fixtures on public property and direct private citizens to use them, as well. These regulations can spark intense political debate as star-gazers, environmentalists, business owners, and legislators clash over competing priorities.
Dark sky compliance can be complex. It usually involves limitations on the brightness of outdoor lights, the height of light fixtures, and the amount of “uplight” that a fixture allows. Here at Fabby, any of our ceramic wall sconces can be custom-manufactured as dark sky light fixtures for a small upcharge. We close off the top of the sconce, ensuring that light only escapes from the bottom. Simple steps like this help keep light pollution in check and make our sky as dark as possible.