Protecting Our Dark Skies

By Andy Orf, Northern Door Astronomy Club
and Beth Bartoli, Newport SP Naturalist

The Newport Wilderness Society (NWS) encourages its members, and the general public, to appreciate the value of Newport State Park being recognized as one of only 76 International Dark Sky areas by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Newport received this designation because of its “remarkably dark evening skies, and its public outreach of education.” We hope the residents of Northern Door County will help keep it dark by avoiding white light pollution.

Park naturalist Beth Bartoli must provide at least two light-meter readings each year to the IDA to maintain Newport’s designation as a Dark Sky preserve. Newport has some of the darkest skies in the state, thanks to being situated on 2,400 acres of wilderness at the northern end of Door peninsula. Even so, the lights of Sister Bay, nine miles to the southwest, often show up on her meter. Sky meter readings are included in an annual report required by IDA to not only document our commitment to protecting the dark skies, but to also report on the park’s education and community outreach efforts.

How Can Each of Us Help Keep Dark Skies Dark?

Dark skies can be protected if property owners use eco-friendly outdoor lighting, and use it only when absolutely necessary. Other than turning outdoor lights off, the next best thing is to have outdoor lights point down at the ground instead of toward the sky. Motion-sensing lights are preferable for security, and timers that switch lights off during late-night hours are helpful in the effort against light pollution. 

Graphic courtesy:

Light pollution is known to disrupt the life-sustaining behaviors of fauna and flora that depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark. This interference with the ecosystem is hazardous to our environment…and ultimately to humans.

Interested in more information? The International Dark Sky Association has resources and advice on how you can help protect our local dark sky.