Dark Sky Island

The gorgeous Isle of Sark, the smallest self-governing island in Europe, is located in the English channel 130 miles off the southern English coast. In January 2011 it became the world’s first “Dark Sky island” by controlling light pollution. The island’s single electricity source is an oil-fired power station, and there are no cars, streetlights or even paved roads: you can only get around by bike, horse, carriage or tractor-drawn bus. Due to the lack of light pollution, the Milky Way stretches gloriously overhead—from horizon to horizon across the pristine black sky.

The City Dark on PBS


Guys! The City Dark is a great film and it’s going to be on PBS this summer. I’ll remind you when we get closer to the date. We have 2 months till then. I highly recommend this film.

Check out this horrific picture. Okay, okay, as a picture, it’s pretty neat, kind of surreal. Even I have to admit, I like it, but I am most definitely horrified by what’s going on here.

This picture was taken by Tom Anderson. Remember him? The guy who started MySpace. He took this photo in Taiwan and posted it to Facebook.

I was driving through the mountains of central Taiwan…up ahead in the distance, I spied a huge glow lighting up the night sky. This wasn’t a single light source, it looked more like a spaceship had landed…As I drove closer I started to get a sense for what was going on, and then I found what you see here in the picture. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the lights are there to make the crops grow faster.

About thirty seconds of internet research found me this.

Tianwei in ChanghuaCounty is also known as the Garden of Taiwan. At night the flower farms on both sides of the highway are ablaze with light as the flower farmers simulate sunlight to encourage the growth of the flowers. The massive fields of shining lights in the night make for quite a spectacular sight.

I don’t know how Taiwan compares to China, but I’ve heard it’s near impossible, if not completely impossible, to see stars at all in and around China’s urban areas. I haven’t been able to find any really credible sources for this, but I’ve also heard this is not due solely to light pollution, but even air pollution. Well I don’t know about that, but looking at pictures like this, I can see how light pollution is a real epidemic in Asia.


Artificial Moon by Wang Yuyang

At over 13 feet wide and constructed using hundreds of various fluorescent lightbulbs (with some acting as recreations of craters), this piece is meant to be a shining artificial satellite in Xuhui Park in Shanghai, where the moon is often obscured by light pollution.

(source: arthubasia, via: theawesomer)

Alright, I feel like I need to address a statement in this post. There is no city on Earth that produces enough light pollution to obscure the moon. Think about it. The moon is obscured during the day when the sun is out. No amount of light sources on Earth could make a night close to as bright as day. There is another factor here. China also has a very serious air pollution problem. Light pollution and air pollution are two very different things. It’s hard to imagine, but I can believe that skyglow and smog could work together to obscure the moon.

But wait, I’ve got more. While the use of fluorescent lights is admirable, this artificial moon is not fighting light pollution. It is heavily contributing too it. Think of all the watts needed to power a 13 foot sphere of light bulbs. Fluorescent or not, that is A LOT. Now divide that number by 2. One half of the sphere’s light shines downward to make a safe park at night for people. The other half of energy used and payed for goes up into the sky, never to be used by humans, and adding to the worrisome skyglow.

A lot of people see pictures of the Earth at night and think, ‘How interesting!’ and ‘How pretty!’ but did you know, all the light you see in pictures such as this one is wasted light? We spend billions of dollars every year (Over $2 billion in the US alone) powering lights that send light up into space where it will never be used. Lighting responsibly does not mean turning your lights off. It means using light fixtures that direct light only downward, where it is used. Not to mention, eliminated light pollution darkens our skies so that we can see the stars, and astronomers can learn more about our universe. Learn more about the effects of light pollution and lighting responsibly at