Dark Sky Week

Surprisingly few things have changed since moving from a busy suburb to a less built up community wedged between farm fields and the Niagara Escarpment. Our routines have remained quite similar; we still have access to the same stores and places we’re used to visiting, we’re a hop, skip and a jump from our friends and family and we live in a subdivision where kids still play outside (all hope is not lost). But the one thing that I’ve noticed that is really different in our new community is the sky. It might seem like a ridiculous conclusion to make but in reality, aside from nights around a campfire in Bobcaygeon or Balsam Lake, I’ve never seen a sky this dark with stars so bright, especially an hour outside of Toronto.

I’ve always had an affinity for the stars. I loved looking for shooting stars to make a wish when I was a young whipper-snapper. As I grew older, I started to spend my time searching for the constellations. As I grew older still, searching for constellations turned into searching for lost loved ones as I started to understand the concept that even though the stars aren’t always visible, they’re always there; and that seemed a lot like the healing of grief to me.

So why does it matter? This week is International Dark Sky Week. In 2003, a high school student paying tribute to the field of astronomy and to dreamers everywhere decided that she wanted people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution and Dark Sky Week was born.

On the surface, light pollution may seem like a made up, fake news term but in reality, light pollution causes more harm than most of us realize. Light pollution disrupts the migratory patterns of birds and the health and lifespan of sea turtles and insects and other nocturnal animals. Research has shown that humans who experience more artificial light at night (especially blue light) are at a greater risk for depression and obesity and breast cancer to name a few.

So, while we can’t remove all artificial lighting at night, we can do our part to reduce it by shielding light fixtures or pointing them downward to avoid light trespassing outside of our property lines or by attending Star Parties to learn more and raise awareness (check with your local Astronomy group for event schedules).

I don’t think I’d like a world without stars because it would be a world without wonder, and I don’t think anything good can come from that.