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Save Lake Burton’s Dark Skies

by Pat Leake

In January, we were fortunate to be at the lake during the rare, total eclipse of a super moon (close to the earth, therefore especially large in the sky).  It was a perfect confluence of events as the weather was cold and clear.  The eclipse painted the moon a lovely rust color, known as a Blood Moon, and the clarity, due to the dry air, made the Milky Way especially clear.  The clarity of the winter air made this even better, as did the blocking of the moon’s reflected light and the fact that there were no lights on near us.  The twinkling of the stars through the trees was mesmerizing.

One of the joys of Lake Burton is being able to view the Milky Way and constellations in the night sky.  Unnecessary and poorly installed outdoor lighting produces light pollution which interferes with viewing the sky.  The International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit organization that promotes stewardship of the night sky, is an excellent resource for information about best practices and products to minimize light pollution.  Much of this is just common sense.  You want to use the lowest wattage necessary for safety needs.  Light should be focused only on the area that needs illumination.  Most importantly, lights should be left on only when truly needed.  Blue wavelengths (higher frequency), which are common in outdoor LED lighting, should be avoided.  Look for the lowest frequency available (e.g. 2700K).  Fixtures should be shielded so that light is focused downward only.  Following these guidelines also makes you a better neighbor and is beneficial to wildlife.

Finding Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

IDA maintains a searchable database of lighting products certified to reduce glare, light trespass, and skyglow. You can find it here:  Find Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

IDA also certifies outdoor lighting fixtures as being "Dark Sky Approved."  You can look for the IDA Fixture Seal of Approval on outdoor lighting at your local retailer. 

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