Porter County Passes Anti-Light Pollution Bill Oct 7, 2010 9:49:15 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 7, 2010 9:49:15 GMT -6
Dark Sky resolution passes Porter County Indiana council
05 October 2010
05 October 2010
Our good friend Audrey Fischer and fellow astronomer from the Chicago Astronomical Society, who has been fighting for the return of Dark Skies in the region, has won a important and substantial victory in Porter County Indiana, addressing the wasteful and instrusive light pollution situation and helping to bring back darker skies to astronomers and citizens alike.
From The Chesterton tribune:
Astronomers persuade commissioners to pass light pollution prevention resolution
Porter County will be seeing stars, and in a good way.
County commissioner president Robert Harper, D-Center, and fellow commissioner John Evans, R-North, were the first in the state to approve a resolution that endorses the reduction of light pollution, a term for excessive outdoor lighting.
Less light pollution means the nighttime skies will be more visible to those below the ether.
“We think it’s important,” said Harper, who mentioned that the resolution has also met approval from the county plan commission.
Harper is also president of the nine-member plan commission board. He said the resolution relates to the “green space” ordinance to preserve the natural qualities of the county. He said the resolution will aid the plan commission and that no new rules have been established yet.
County attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger gave her approval Tuesday saying she found nothing harmful in the resolution.
“This is so cool,” responded Chicago astronomer Audrey Fischer who brought the resolution to the commissioners’ desks.
“Porter County has the potential to become a leader in the area of artificial outdoor illumination practices by promoting a diversified team effort implementing sound environmental policies which will benefit residents of Porter County, students of the universities, guests who visit the Indiana Dunes National Shoreline and serve as a positive example for the nation to follow,” Fischer wrote in the resolution.
She said she chose to present her resolution to Porter County because of the Dunes Lakeshore and said that if communities work together to reduce light pollution, the Milky Way can come into view in the dunes’ night sky.
“Light pollution is a global problem,” she said as indicated in a report done last year by the American Medical Association. “Porter County has a good handle on (pollution), but they just need to preserve what can be seen in the sky.”
One of the ways to diminish light pollution, Fischer said, is to install lights on city streets that direct their beams straight down instead of allowing the light to scatter through the atmosphere up to 100 miles or more. Fischer, who does her astronomy work as a volunteer, is a member of several prominent astronomy associations such as the Chicago Astronomers Society and the International Dark-Sky Association where she is a board member. She also helped found the One Star at a Time program and StarPals that educate children on a global level on the importance of astronomy.
StarPals’ first event connected Chicago school children with another school in Jerusalem through Skype Video conferencing as they both watched the Orion Nebula. The program, she said, is “global” and let’s children around the world realize the sky is something they all share. “We can explore together.”
The ultimate goal of Fisher’s programs aside from reducing light pollution would be to introduce “StarParks” or astronomy clubs into every community on a worldwide scale where children and community members can bring with them a telescope or check one out to stargaze.
Two major viewing sites currently in the region are the Valparaiso University Observatory and Purdue University Calumet’s NIRo telescope in Lake County. Both schools had faculty members who wrote recommendations for the resolution to the county commissioners.
Fisher said the National Parks Service indicated in a study last year that by the year 2025, it is expected that less than ten percent of people will ever experience a starry night unless measures are taken. She said the upcoming generation will believe having a sky absent of starlight is normal.
Fischer’s efforts caught the attention of a few locals with an interest in preserving the view of celestial views, primarily the Milky Way.
"Stars are beautiful,” said Chesterton resident Mark Montgomery, who came to support the resolution after reading about it in newspapers. Michigan City resident Larry Silvestri said he has only been able to see the Milky Way “faintly” from the dunes and felt losing the night time sky would be taking away “a source of inspiration.”
Supporters of the resolution found Fischer herself a source of inspiration. Fischer has received praise from Chicago Mayor Richard Daily and was instrumental in having a first-ever stargazing event for children at The White House in Washington D.C.
“She’s a pied-piper,” said Illinois Institute of Technology Assistant Physics Professor Jeff Terry. “I’ll help wherever she goes.”
The group treated the commissioners afterwards to a view the planet Jupiter and its moons from a high-powered telescope set up outside the entrance of the county administration building.
“I think it is a great way to get back to nature. You can look up and see what’s going on.” Evans said shortly after getting an up-close look of Jupiter.
Fischer did not expect the commissioners to approve the resolution unanimously and said she was “very pleased” with the vote. “What they did was fantastic,” she told the Chesterton Tribune. Certain group members of Tuesday night’s astronomers are making the effort to get more local governments throughout the state to pass the resolution, the most immediate of which being the city of Terre Houte.
Excellent Job Audrey!... #Thumbsup#
And kudos to Chicago Astronomers Paulie & Hillary for their attendance and support of the resolution at the council meeting.