The Human Health “Angle” of Light Pollution

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The more awareness we “shine” on the importance of dark skies, the more we learn of the detrimental effects to biological organisms. Last June, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that light at night is harmful to our health. Most recently, researchers studying hamsters found that animals can pass the damaging effects of nighttime light exposure to their offspring. We amateur astronomers know the value of dark skies in satisfying our innate sense of wonder, our passion for science, and our psyches’ fondness for the vast silence of space. But how do we appeal to the folks who haven’t caught the astronomy bug?

If you’ve ever been motivated to protect dark skies, you now have the best “angle” to appeal to the artificial light-lovers. There is a growing body of evidence that there's a health cost to our increasingly illuminated nights. There is also a body of evidence on the healing effect of nature. Dark skies are the primordial sea of nature, but because of light pollution, few even regard the enormous vastness of space around us as nature. So, what can you do? Here’s a start:

  1. Put out the message to all your social media connections, your neighbors, and your family about the detrimental health effects of light at night and the positive force of time in nature.
  2. Share gorgeous images of the stars that few ever get to see so folks know what soul enrichment they are missing, or better yet, share a view from your telescope.
  3. Share solutions found on the International Dark Sky Association website to curb light pollution.

Keep advocating for dark skies — everyone wins when you do.