Free Range Free Chat

Start tonight. Don’t look down, look up.

Monday. Really? I mean, REALLY? I don’t care what any physicist says, I know time flies by faster as we get older. Because yesterday was Christmas and the day before Labor Day….. now it’s almost March — and let’s face it, it’s not terribly Spring like, but facts are facts and truth is truth: Spring is coming.

The Milky Way

We may feel everything is moving so fast— too fast really — and the frantic nature of our own lives comes into stark focus, especially when, as WH Auden says “Looking up at the stars, I know quite well, That for all they care, I can go to hell, But on earth indifference is the least worth we have to dread from man or beast.

These are the times, here, now, tonight, tomorrow when we stop the spinning and look up, take a breath, and if you live where darkness still exists, all the better to return our sane and steady perspective.

Feb. 2023: “An island in north Wales has been officially recognised for having one of the best night skies in the world. 
Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), off the Llŷn Peninsula, has become the first site in Europe to be awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary certification.
It joins 16 other sites worldwide recognized as the most remote and dark places on earth.

The location of Enlli (an island, part of Wales) and its geographical features make it one of the darkest places in the UK – with the mountain on the island serving as an effective barrier, limiting light from the mainland. The closest major light pollution comes from Dublin, which is over 70 miles across the Irish Sea.

Light pollution is “skyrocketing” according to scientists. And all this artificial light has consequences beyond our view of the stars.  Studies have shown its impact on our sleep – and consequently our health- and its disruptive impact on nocturnal wildlife. There is also evidence of underwater effects; artificial light in coastal cities exposes large areas of seafloor to potentially harmful levels of light

The Bortle scale helps amateur astronomers and stargazers to know how much light pollution is in the sky where they observe. Credit: International Dark Sky Association

A recent study announced that a third of people on Earth can no longer see the glimmering band of the Milky Way.Much work is already being done by concerned bodies to preserve darkness or else achieve it where light pollution looms, resulting in an explosion of sites with ‘certified’ skies – places where you can be sure of a certain level of darkness or sky quality.

Milky Way

But dark sky advocates say it doesn’t need to be this way. Even in urban areas, more carefully directed lighting that doesn’t shine up into space, and lights that are switched off when they’re not needed, could help save energy and bring back the glow of a naturally dark night sky.

Lighthouse on Ynys Enlli whose light was changed to red from white to decrease light’s effect on night sky.

I saw no Way—The Heavens were stitched— I felt the Columns close— The Earth reversed her Hemispheres— I touched the Universe— And back it slid—and I alone— A Speck upon a Ball— Went out upon Circumference— Beyond the Dip of Bell— (E.D.)

Emily Dickinson

THIS is our Monday Free Chat; we have a free ranging focus with an environmental bent— today we’re looking UP to get our bearings, because looking any other direction these days feels a lot like an attack of vertigo. That said, any topic is of interest within the bounds of civility is golden, an easy rule to follow, at least AFTER the coffee. Share and share alike — what’s going on in your neck of the Milky Way, NVers?

BBC. NASA IDA SkyatNightBBC Magazine