We've been losing the night to increasing light pollution, which has a critical impact on our ecosystems and health. Now, legislation co-proposed by Tim Brothers -- of the MIT Wallace Astrophysical Observatory, EAPS and vice president of the Massachusetts chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association -- aims to conserve our dark skies.
A last look at the Milky Way?
On a personal level, I sympathize with Tony Rahegan’s “Losing the Night.” Growing up in Southampton, I was also treated to immaculate views of the heavens, the inky black sky smeared with a trail of stars belonging to our Milky Way galaxy. Today, that view is under threat, and lack of good public policy is much to blame.
The legislation proposed by state Senator Creem and state Representative Garballey, is a path forward for the Commonwealth not only to lead in preserving our night sky, but perhaps even to restore it to its natural glory. At MIT’s Wallace Astrophysical Observatory, we have observed the change with our telescopes. In just a few short years, we are on the verge of losing our view of the Milky Way in Westford — in some years the brightening of our nighttime environment has exceeded 10 percent per year, far beyond the already atrocious 2.2 percent national average. Further, preserving the night sky is about more than the stars: It protects our fragile ecosystem, saves taxpayer dollars, and brings our carbon reduction goals much closer to reality.
Story Image: Meteors from the Perseid meteor swarm burned up in the atmosphere as our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is seen in the clear night sky over Fehmarn, Germany. (Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/EPA/FILE)