Dark Sky Initiative

A Bright Solution to Light Pollution

Tommy

Last Changed:  Thursday, 01-09-14

Astronomy was my only hobby, passion, joie de vivre, fire, flame, flare… until the summer of 2002, when cataract surgery rendered my observing eye dark ‘n dead! Considered 95% successful, I am one of the 5% for whom cataract surgery “kills” eyesight. My other eye is fading fast too, so doing astronomy is no longer an option. My telescope sits silently in the closet, never to collect light again.  Enraged?  You have no idea.

But I will not sit silently on my geezer keister bellyaching about light pollution like many (most?) astronomers. I stand and fight for dark skies everywhere, every night, not just in cloistered Dark Sky Parks or Preserves! YOU?

I speak, I fight, I write, I Jack Hammer, for all who suffer oppression, repression, persecution, injustice…! The rich and powerful have more money and minions to speak for them than the rest of us combined. I’m like the Lorax; but I don’t speak just for trees, I speak for all species.

Pitchforks, torches, abrasives, anyone?

I’m extremely passionate about astronomy. You? If so, please turn your passion into action!

Edward Abbey, my favorite scribbler, said, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” Here’s a pic of Ol’ Cactus Ed after blasting a gaping hole in his TV. All of us need to do this, and the sooner the better!

Tommy, my lifelong friend, a distinguished paleontologist, has spent many nights under what he calls the “effulgent stars” deep in the Fayum Depression of Egypt. “The stars,” he writes, “are so effulgent that the clusters appear to be in 3-D, such that if you reached up you could pluck some out…”

I have never seen a sky as dark as Tommy describes and never will! Alas, all too soon, even the vast Fayum Depression and the Sahara Desert, and every other locale on Earth will be smeared with light pollution. What will you do to stop this creeping menace, malaise, malady?

I’ve lived all but two-and-a-half years in Iowa – two years in War-shington, D. C., as a geologic technical editor, and six months at a geology field station on the edge of the Big Horn Basin / Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming.

Why Iowa, not beloved mountains or desert? Because 99% of Iowa’s once lush and live prairie is gone, forever, plowed under for corn, beans, stinkin’ hog ‘n egg factories, towns, lights, and people! In other words, Syphilization!

Iowa is dead – the country’s most environmentally altered state – with skies awash in light blight, and soil ‘n water awash in Big Ag’s poisonous oversight!  Less than 1% of the original prairie once covering Iowa remains, and Big Ag / Farm Bureau just can’t wait to get their poison-smeared hands on it too, so’s they can keep “Feedin’ The World” or  more accurately, “Poisonin’ ‘n Pollutin’ The World?”

I can’t cause more damage living here in Iowa, unlike mountain or desert. I try to practice what I preach. You?

This was my home for a total of six months over three summers – a geology field station in Wyoming. During WWII, these buildings housed detainees (read Japanese-American prisoners of war) at the nearby Heart Mountain Internment Camp (read Concentration Camp). Living in them was a deeply humbling experience for me; often, at night, whilst deeply ensconced in my toasty warm sleeping bag, I felt the former residents’ presence and heard their ghostly voices.  These buildings are now gone!

Photo by J.

 

And this is an image taken circa 1944 of the Heart Mountain (background) Internment Camp. Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

But wait, there’s more. Please read on to learn how a famous amateur astronomer helped me fight to save the night from light!

“Her-r-r-re’s… Johnny!