Many people might think of our rural neighborhood as a hindrance or a place of little activity, but over 80% of the world's population might be envious of our quiet, unpolluted, and dark mesa. In fact, almost 30% cannot even see the Milky Way! As cities expand and people inhabit more of the globe, man-made lights make it more difficult to view the cosmos. As light shines in the atmosphere, it hits gas molecules and natural particles in the sky as well as from pollution causing it to scatter, filling the sky with light and diminishing our view of the stars. Luckily, though, we don't live in a place like Singapore where the population lacks the opportunity to see most stars on their clearest nights! Current statistics presented in the Washington Post state that 99% of people in Europe and the U.S. live under light polluted areas. How lucky are we that we can just walk outside and look upward at the stars instead of driving hundreds of miles to reduce the effects light scattering?
Others look to the direct dangers of light pollution. Many animals use the night to hunt, escape predators, or sleep. Man-made lighting affects their life cycle and ours. For instance many newborns and migrating animals instinctively use stars to navigate to their breeding and eating grounds; misreading our lights instead of stars have killed thousands of these animals. Light pollution has been associated with human depression and even obesity. In our personal lives, too much light at night can reduce our eyes’ ability to see at night, thus reducing safety when driving and trail walking.
Luckily many people who love Wright’s Mesa and its starry sky are standing to protect Norwood’s pure night air clarity. By working with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), we hope to certify the town as a Dark Sky friendly place; one that allows the best view of the night sky. In addition to keeping us starstruck, it will attract astronomy tourism. With San Miguel Power Association replacing our old incandescent street lights with LED upgrades and IDA certified shading, the dark sky of Norwood got even darker! The shaded, LED lights shine at a more vertical angle to the ground so light scattering will be reduced. If you have old expensive incandescent outdoor lighting, this could happen to you!
Wright’s Mesa’s amazing gift is that we possess one of the least light polluted areas in the world, and it is a rarity worth preserving.