Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where, o Where, is the Great Bear These Days?

Let me be clear... I ABHOR nighttime lighting. I do understand (and appreciate!) the importance of some lighting for safety and security. But my previous post should have made clear how excessive and redundant much of our nighttime illumination really is.

Anyone who has tried to escape the evening glow that emanates constantly from the Miami skyline can attest to its intrusive nature. Whether you are on a vessel in the middle of Biscayne Bay, camping overnight at the remote outpost of Flamingo, or hunkered down in the Florida Keys, Miami is always discernible-- manifesting itself as a semi-circular orb of conspicuous light erupting off the horizon. Thanks to such pollution, the south Florida night sky is typically dominated by only the brightest first and second-magnitude stars. A few familiar asterisms still appear (i.e., the big dipper), but the larger constellations they help form have long since disappeared from view. Think about it-- we, and our children, can no longer view the same stars that have been seen by our collective ancestors since the dawn of human history. Our generation has successfully conquered the moon while simultaneously extinguishing the stars around it.

I myself have often been complicit. I've been known to enjoy some holiday lighting around the home, and have often left the porch light on to welcome visitors. Time to investigate new strategies for cutting my electrical use and dimming my own light output.


  1. Thanks, Kevin-- great to hear from you! Keep your eyes on the blog for a mention later this week.