Dark Sky Initiative

A Bright Solution to Light Pollution


Last Changed:  Tuesday, 12-22-15

Circa 1947:  “Mommy, can I dig a hole out back?”

“Why, son?”

“Because I want to see what’s down there.”

One of my earliest memories, digging that hole. Already, my life and Earth –  What’s within, upon, above, around, beyond Her – were a well-woven web of rock ‘n star. I’ve spent my life between a rock and a star-ed place.

My favorite book, Desert Solitaire (1968), by Edward Abbey, says it all.  It’s survived ‘n thrived, surthrived, “…flourished…burrowing along like a seditious mole a few feet underground, hidden but alive…”

But Iowa’s fields ‘n forests, creeks ‘n quarries and its light-ly polluted sky weren’t enough in those halcyon years. I craved more – to live wild in the wild. I even played “living wild” whenever loosed from the cramped quarters of home.    Cartoon: Jerry B.

I’m trapped in two worlds.  One wild, free.  One tame, domesticated.

Alas, civilization (syphilization?) intruded, as it usually does. My fallback: I shared my Big Three – geology, astronomy, meteorology – with others, teaching earth science. Wonderful students, wonderful times, wonderful memories.

But the wonder of living free in the wild still stalks my days and nights.

So, until I dig ‘n fill my final hole, I shall fight to dissolve the stain of industrial syphilization and the pain of domestication, fight to free the stars from the blight of our awful nighttime light, whilst enlightening humans about the wonders of wildness.

Henry David Thoreau said: “…in wildness is the preservation of the world.”

I say: “To be free is to be wild.  To be wild is to be free.”

EarthFlag1What am I thankful for?  Earth – all who live within, upon, above, around, and beyond Her! That includes ALL — rocks, stars, galaxies, meteors… ALL!

So many -ists and -isms.  None reflect my beliefs, so I created my own:  I am a Terraist, and I believe in Terraism!  Say those two words aloud in a crowd.  Watch people react and recoil. Everyone hears terrorist / terrorism. Sad. Terra, Latin for Earth.

Earth Lives!  And here’s the flag I proudly fly, the only flag for which I’ll die – the Earth Flag – tattered and torn, much like Earth, as Homosap’s continues to Eat Earth for a few more $$$ and possessions. Recently, I replaced it with a new one.  We can’t replace Earth with a new one!  Think about it!  Image G.V.

I’m proud to be an Earth/Sky Hugger, Jack Hammering light pollution smothering starlight.  You?

Kurt Vonnegut: “We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.” I’ll add: And too stupid!

Wait, there’s more…funny stuff. Please continue…

Alright, light fighters, lighten up! Fighting light pollution is a Herculean task. (Even Hercules would have been challenged!)  It’s not a light-hearted issue, and it’s not easy making light of it, especially amongst astronomers; but I’ll focus a few photons of farce and funniness on it for ya.

But, know this: I only have eyes for starry skies, and I am dead serious about fighting and annihilating light pollution.

A former student’s cartoon of Ye Ol’ Captain Dark Sky. Chris P.

Nothing I write here is personal. I don’t name names – yet. I don’t hate any astronomer, don’t dislike 99.9% of them, don’t have or hold a grudge against anyone in any of the darksky.orgs and astromagazines.

But I refuse to be polite, appeasing apologist astronomers clinging to their clock drives ‘n comput-rrrs, unwilling to fight for dark skies while the sky dies!  Whatever it takes.

Yes, Al Literation is my constant companion. Ol’ Cousin Al is always lurkin’, loiterin’, ‘n lollygagin’ about inside my brain, making me mess about with words. I love words; and love to play with them, so, my prose becomes rhymes at times. I don’t know what comes over me, and I seem powerless to refrain from falling into the quagmire.  It’s  a terrible affliction, malediction, malady…  Just groan and bear it and move on.

And my friend says: “Jack, you spray your writing with rapid-fire, hair-triggered, machine-gunned adjectives, adverbs, etc!” Yep, sure enough, I do. And yes, I know it’s not correct form, but…no apologies.

And, yes, I know I suffer from sesquipedalianism, a horrible disease. Look it up.  All my life I’ve been told “never use a long word when a short one will do.”  Blah, blah, blah!  How else are we to learn new words if they are not dumped in front of our eyes. Look it up!

Yes, I know my website’s looong. Too long for fanatic fans of gadgets and gizmos, twits ‘n tweets with attention spans shorter’n the time it takes an electron to do its dirty work inside your comput-rrr.  No apologies for length or content.

Abrasive? You bet! Hey, Trumpsterboy’s leading the Rethuglican polls by being abrasive, isn’t he?  My words’ll likely scrape ‘n scratch your finely ground mirror or lens…

‘Jever take ‘n try to grind glass – concavify or convexify glass without abrasives? “Well, I should say.” They’re the essence of our passion – glass, ground to perfection. So, yes, I’ll be abrasive. Deal with it!



Abrasives, the essence of astronomy.


People e-mail me: “Stargeezer, you’re too caustic, sarcastic, angry!” NO! I’m neither.  I’m SARCAUSTIC!

My response: Hell, yes! I’m angry. If you’re not angry about light pollution, you’re not an astronomer, not MY kind of astronomer! Earth and Sky are like Friends and Family. I’ll fight to the death – no holds barred, all out, to the death, safety off, hammer cocked, cross-hairs collimated, barrels loaded, finger on the trigger – to protect and defend Earth and Sky from the SOBs, Satans Of Brightness!

I’ve tried all the soft and cuddly passive aggressive BS, and none of it worked / works!

Yes, I’d rather be a kind, polite, gentle, soft-hearted, Grampa Geezer, but I’m not, so…

If you crave civility, amiability, affability, cordiality, tranquillity…, please read the rest of this blustery ol’ cock-a-doodle-doo, and then go elsewhere and “turn your lights on.”

Here’s how I see it: astronomers — and others, nonastronomers — so unfocused about the dark sky / deep sleep issue, so unwilling to read from top to bottom, side to side, upside down, inside out, sideways, blindfolded, and every other which way…, won’t do anything about light pollution or starry skies anyhow, anytime, anywhere, anyway, for anyone!

I’m not telling you to run crazed into the streets with pitchforks and torches – at least not yet, but…!

If you’ve read this far, you’ve surely (but don’t call me Shirley!) noticed I have a sense of humor or as I call it a humor gene!  Yep, I sure enough do, and thank goodness for it.  Can you imagine teaching 9th graders for 30 years without one!?  I love to make people smile and laugh!  Few things in life make me happier than watching / hearing people laugh!


Next: Tommy!