Protecting the Dark Sky 2019

We have been quiet for the last few months, but that does not mean that we have given up or backed down on the need to protect our dark sky.

Laura Griffin from the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area has created a video that is worthy of your time. Join The Dark Night Nocturnal Preserve tells the story of How the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area became a Nocturnal Preserve with its many partners and the importance of stopping light pollution.

This year is a pivotal year for making a difference. With a provincial political election slated to happen and a federal election coming up, now is the time for you to get involved and make a difference.

You can make change and protect the dark sky in several ways:

1) Learn how and make the changes in your own back yard to reduce light pollution. Leading by example is the best method of inspiring change.

1) Talk to your friends, neighbors and family (including your children) about the issues of light pollution and protecting the dark sky. Share information and ideas on how everyone is able to reduce the light pollution in the area and take steps to make real change and implement what you can.

2) When political canvassers come to your door, bring up the importance of protecting our dark sky and stopping light pollution. Ask what the party plan is as well as the candidates opinion is and what they are going to do on the topic.

3) Contact the riding offices in your area and express that this topic is one of importance to you. Again ask what the party and candidates plan is and what they are going to do if elected on the subject. If possible, ask for an e-mail transcript of their comments and if elected, hold them to what they said.

The elected body works for you. If it is important to you, make sure that they are doing the work you want to see happen.

4) Get your community and family actively involved. This can be something as simple as gathering some friends to go out one night and look at the stars, the aurora or even a meteor event (maybe with luck you can hit all three).

There are many fantastic solar events taking place in 2019 that you can watch. A little planning and some good luck with clear sky can set you out on an adventure that will be a life time memory.

For places to experience the Dark Sky outside your own area, i have a few suggestions:

Check out the Dark Sky Preserve at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. Go for a walk on the many paths and see the natural habitat that requires a stable circadian rhythm for function. See what the light pollution from the city of Calgary looks like first hand and what that threat is.

Another means of involvement is to check out the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory and attend one of their very informative and cool events. See the stars through a telescope, talk to astrophysicists and meet people that have a love and passion for our universe. These events are fantastic for people of all ages and are both fun and educational.

Stay tuned for more events that we are going to put together this year as well! Come be a part of it all and meet others interested in the world around us!

Thank you again for being a part of Protecting The Dark Sky!

We can make change and protect our world together!

Welcome To Protect The Dark Sky

Alberta Transportation plans on using the standard guidelines on lighting for provincial highways for the Calgary Southwest Ring Road. Alberta Transportation claims that these standard guidelines (that were created in 2003) for lighting do lower some of the light pollution compared to past lighting solutions by using low temperature LEDs and they also minimize blue light, but they still fall well short of best practices.

The lighting proposed will cause a dramatic level of spillage (light pollution) that has a massive impact on the area surrounding it. This light pollution does nothing for making the roads safer, offer a better lighting solution for drivers, or even cost less to implement and maintain, it does however create several problems for the area.

It has long been known that non-directional lighting causes spillage and glare for the users of the roadway. This glare has a significant impact on drivers by making eyes feel more strained and causing mental and physical fatigue. This fatigue creates a breakdown in the reaction time of drivers and thereby creates a more dangerous roadway.

The proposed lighting is not as cost effective as better alternatives in highway lighting like those suggested by the Illuminating Engineering Society, the International Dark Sky Association and the Intelligent Road and Street Lighting in Europe research paper.

Implementation of a poor choice at a higher cost has long-term ramifications for all citizens. Using best practices now at the inception of the Calgary Southwest Ring Road lighting is far cheaper than having to re-implement later, and offers up cost savings over time in electrical use, saving the province and thereby the taxpayer even more money.

There are other factors to look at though, beyond upfront cash costs.

By polluting the night sky, the wildlife will be impacted by a change to the basic circadian rhythm, in rates of predation, altering foraging habits, changing mating abilities, reduction of safe migration paths and pushing some species from the natural habitat altogether. This migration of species from natural habitat could entail pushing predators and problem species farther into the city, impacting the safety and well-being of pets, children and property.

The suggested lighting by the Alberta Government also seems to go against the Municipal District of Foothills Number 31 Council adoption of the Dark Sky Bylaws adopted in 2011. Although the Alberta Government can supersede bylaws imposed by the Municipal District it is outlandish that the implementation of the proposed lighting would go against the community adopted ordinance on light pollution without at least a public consultation on the issue.

There are also two established non-profits that will be highly impacted by the choices made. The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area and the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, located on the outskirts of Calgary on Highway 22X are both currently in a designated Dark Sky location, and are both a part of the International Dark Sky Association. These Dark Sky designations at both non-profit organizations are currently under threat from the poor lighting choice suggested by Alberta Transportation and the Alberta Government.

Without the dark sky, the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory will lose the ability to discern objects in the night sky, impacting the educational facility and rendering down its abilities and the financial investments made in it over the years.

The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area is one of only five Habitat Conservation Areas designated under Alberta’s Wildlife Act, one of five Dark Sky Preserves and the first to be designated as a Nocturnal Preserve. This Nocturnal Preserve designation is one of only two in Canada and the only one in Alberta.

It should be noted that much work and financial investment has been made to establish the Nocturnal Preserve and Dark Sky designation at both locations and the Dark Sky designation may be lost for both areas if the planned lighting for the Calgary Southwest Ring Road goes ahead without modification.

Having the Alberta Government and Alberta Transportation being a cause of educational facilities and the conservation preserves losing their effectiveness after all of the investments made over the years when it could be avoided for a cheaper and better choice seems highly counter-intuitive and wasteful. Our governing decision-makers have the opportunity to be leaders in conservation of the night sky, offering a better and safer roadway and communities, ensuring natural habitat for wildlife and saving money with a rework of the lighting suggested for the Southwest Ring Road.