Letter to the Editor: Limit light pollution by starting at home


Last Sunday, people all over the Shenandoah valley turned out to their porches and yards to view the supermoon eclipse. The event was also broadcast by NASA in a livestream feed. It’s heartening to see, especially in a day and age when people are more interested in the little screens at the end of their fingers than in the world around them.

Unfortunately, the supermoon lunar eclipse was a pale echo of what it could have been. The reason is light pollution — the artificial lights from buildings, streetlights and elsewhere that we see every night. This reflected light washes out the natural darkness of the sky, making it impossible to see all but the brightest stars. There are very few places in the U.S. that one can actually see the Milky Way clearly, and there’s likely to be fewer as time goes on.

Most of this light is unnecessary — streetlights that direct some light upward, skyscrapers with full lighting at night, and overlapping floodlights are some examples. Not only is this costly, it can have a deleterious effect on animals and disrupt migration patterns, threatening bird populations especially.

It is possible to limit light usage and still be safe — if every home owner checks to be sure outdoor lights are shielded and not shedding up and out (or into your neighbors’ windows!) that would be a great start toward reclaiming the night sky.

Angelie Grubb, Winchester