Light Pollution Is Totally Reversible

If you’re at all interested in astronomy or astrophotography, there is no escaping the effects of light pollution. Whether that means traveling to darker skies or using post-processing to reduce gradients, we all kind of wish it wasn’t there. Right?

Even if you’re not into taking photos of the night sky, light pollution affects us all, human to insect. In fact, it’s so prevalent that we have to have three terms to define it: glare, clutter, and light trespass.

In this video, Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard shares his thoughts on the ever-expanding issue of light pollution. With a quick look at the facts from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the situation seems pretty bleak. Light pollution is expanding faster than population growth. 99% of the American and European population live under light-polluted skies. It confuses your circadian rhythm, and it affects everything through the three modes of transmission: glare, clutter, and light trespass. After a brief explanation of these terms, Trevor finishes the video with his thoughts on solutions, hoping to make outdoor lighting useful, targeted, shielded, and controlled to reduce the effects of light pollution. After all, with a literal flip of the switch, it's 100% reversible, with instantaneous effect. 

So, that raises the question, what do you think of light pollution? Regardless of what you believe, that 99% of us reading this article live under sky glow is astounding. It's also worth pointing out again that light pollution is 100% reversible. For more information on how you can help reduce light pollution right now, please check out the International Dark-Sky Association

Scott Donschikowski's picture

Scott Donschikowski is a professional photographer and educator with over 11 years of experience leading a variety of photo workshops around the world. He specializes mainly in landscape, wildlife, and astrophotography. He is also active on YouTube where he makes tutorials sharing his photographic knowledge.

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I had an observatory in my backyard when I lived in Louisiana. Right at the end of my driveway was a streetlight. I asked the local power company to place a shield on it so that its light was directed downward only. I didn't get an answer, but about 2 weeks later, I got home and the shield was in place. The incorporated part of the town had a shielded streetlight ordinance in place, but I live about 200 yards outside the border.

Safety is a concern for people, so they have lights that come on at dusk and stay on until dawn. Many of my neighbors do just that. I put up motion detectors so the light only comes on if there is something to trigger it.

Anyway, it's a problem that is being fought by a small minority and will probably never be solved.

I have three 1500 watt led flood lights on a commercial property that bumps-up against my own; then a street light on the opposite side. On the darkest of nights it's so bright I can read a book sitting in my yard. I can get up on my roof and get above those lights; then it's just dealing with the major sky-glow from a major city roughly 10 miles away and all the light from various shopping malls and highways in the area.

I am lucky to live on Kauai, in a dark area that is Bortle 3, even 2 in some spots. I have to contend with one streetlight that I can work around. More aggravating are landscape lights. Lighting up palm trees and such is unnecessary and a vanity exercise. I wish folks would realize that the treasure of seeing a skyful of stars is rare and way more valuable than lighting shrubs.

I live just outside DC. I have to travel a good 3 hours to get to skies dark enough. But, once you get to them, they're a sight to behold!

Right after Katrina, I was able to stand under that streetlight and see the Milky Way rise. That's because the whole region was 100% without power. ;-)

Really sad that we need to take profit from catastrophes but really true! while corona the skies where clearer than ever.

They have all fear of the dark 😂 the strongest man with biggest muscles start to cry alone in the dark 🤣
Lucky me can trip 30min to the alps on 1500 meters above sea level to escape the white hell 😉
Thanks to Trevor for inspiring us to begin astrophotography and becoming dark sky activist!

clear skies for everybody!

I think light pollution is terrible. It keeps us from being in touch with nature and similarly it insulates us from appreciating being a part of something vastly greater than our tiny contrived world of cacophony and chaos. Many years ago in another life I loved astronomy and followed the dark sky efforts. An occasional city such as Tucson would make an effort to control light pollution, perhaps due to its relationship with Kitt Peak observatory through university affiliation and somewhat because of its proximity to Kitt Peak. But it doesn't surprise me in any way that all of humanity seems unconcerned with this topic. Instead we all have to drive many miles or even more kilometers 😉 to appreciate the wonder of the night sky.