Night skies need to be preserved

To the editor:

Francestown’s citizens passed a lighting ordinance to control light pollution. One would think that their intent shouldn’t be invalidated simply because the regulations, as written, seem ill-fitted to Crotched Mountain Ski & Ride.

I applaud the Francestown Zoning Board for recognizing that this issue has regional impact. I live in Temple and frequently enjoy our dark night skies. Last winter, I was out looking for northern lights and was dismayed to see a bright glow in the northwest skies that I had not seen before. Already, our eastern skies are seriously degraded by development. Light pollution is cumulative. An unshielded light here and another one there soon contribute to a haze of light that destroys the opportunity to appreciate our place in the universe.

Dark skies are about much more than just seeing “the faintest of the stars.” Dark skies are the ticket to seeing the aurora borealis, meteor showers, and comets like our current visitor, Ison. Dark skies allow us to see quasars, Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons, eclipses and occultations.

There are stars of different colors and binary star systems that revolve around each other. Amateur astronomers, benefitting from dark skies, have even found meteors that were potential threats to Earth.

As for protestations that Midnight Madness is only two nights a week, that represents over 25 percent of winter evenings. The impact percentage on dark skies can be much greater, however, because many nights are cloudy or are impacted by a full moon.

Taking Crotched Mountain’s contention that they can’t install shielded lights (which was a condition of the original expansion approval), they are the ones choosing to frame the decision as an either/or proposition.

Tricia Saenger


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