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Part II: The City Dark — 6 Easy Steps to a Friendlier Nighttime Lightscape

2012 March 22

We have a direct effect on what we see in the night sky. In fact, the results of a darker sky are breathtaking:

During the E. North America Power Blackout, 2003

After power was restored (photos courtesy of Todd Carlson)

By redirecting and reducing outdoor lighting, we can help protect wildlife like sea turtles, deer, and migrating birds. And who knows? Perhaps we may see a few more stars in the sky!

Here are a few simple guidelines that will help bring the stars back into view and preserve wildlife, not to mention cut down on energy waste:

(1) Turn off unnecessary lights around your house and yard.

(2) Use timers and sensors to help put light only where and when it’s needed.

(3) Shine the light down, not up.

(4) Use fully shielded fixtures to better direct the light and cut down on spill light.

(5) Switch to IDA rated, or Dark Sky Compliant light fixtures. These fixtures have been tested for their ability to focus light only where it’s needed while keeping the wattage to a minimum. Here are just a few options we have on Lumens.com.

(6) Use Red or Yellow filters on house lights. Red and Yellow filtered lights have a shorter wavelength and aren’t as visible to wildlife, affecting them less and attracting fewer insects and moths.

Consider: Dark Sky Compliant Lights Increase Safety

Not only is switching to dark sky fixtures a more friendly option for the environment, it can also makes the yard a safer place. Too much light contributes to glare, making the bright areas seem brighter and the dark areas seem darker. This means unwanted guests are actually better hidden because you can’t see them. Here’s an example:

Fixtures that direct light downward or toward a particular area of the yard cut down on glare, making it easier to spot unwanted guests. And these types of fixtures often require fewer watts to power them, resulting in a lower electricity bill.

What’s your experience of seeing the night sky? How are you helping bring the stars back? Inspire us by sharing your stories below!

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