Dark Sky Week 15-22 April 2023 – are you ready?

Hello NOVAC!   As we get ready to embrace the international dark sky week from 15-22 April 2023, I wanted to share some of the excellent work that Eileen Kragie has done to raise awareness and get others motivated to preserve our dark skies.   Please enjoy her report and thanks Eileen!

Hello NOVAC!  
Some very exciting things are happening for Dark Skies here in our Washington DC metropolitan region as 2023 begins to unfold.
The Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian is opening its long awaited exhibit on Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky on March 23, 2023.  Postponed during the pandemic. Opening day is almost here.
Many more articles are appearing in a variety of major publications about the scourge of light pollution and the havoc it wreaks, not only upon our night skies, but also the extensive damage it is doing to plants, animals, birds, insects, humans, the environment and to our energy consumption and waste.  Great news as the term light pollution is now becoming more commonly recognized by the general public.
International Dark Sky Week comes up 15-22 April this year.  The International Dark Sky Association has created an amazing public outreach kit for anyone interested in spreading the word and educating people about light pollution.  
Last year was the first year Proclamations for International Dark Sky Week were requested. Out of a total of 26 Proclamations issued across the US last year, six came from Virginia.
The Proclamations put the local jurisdictions, and the States, on record for supporting preserving and reclaiming dark skies.  The Governor of Virginia, Fairfax County, the City of Falls Church, the Town of Vienna, the Town of Ashland and the City of Lexington all issued ones last year.  
Thus far, 22 requests for Proclamations for International Dark Sky Week have been submitted in this region, including ones to the Governors of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
Tammy Schwab, of the Fairfax County Park Authority, who is responsible for public outreach and education, created a Dark Skies page for Fairfax County for IDSW last year, as well as creating a Dark Skies Scout patch for this region.  She has been giving the scout badge programs over this past year, and 2023 should present the opportunity for even more programs.
A New Northern Virginia Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association is being created.  Please spread the word and encourage your friends, family, and everyone to join. Student memberships are available at a reduced fee.
Regional cooperation is crucial, so for all of the members living in the DC metropolitan region, your awareness of the efforts to fight light pollution is critical so that you can help educate people.
The Observatory at Turner Farm Park’s (Great Falls, Virginia) application for its Urban Night Sky Place (UNSP) designation is almost finished after almost three years in the making.  The Fairfax County Park Authority has been shepherding the application through the process along with the Analemma Society who will be responsible for the education programs.  
Fairfax County has made light pollution one of its environmental goals for years and is actively working on public outreach and education as is the DC Chapter of IDA.   Another ‘Lights Out’ event is planned in both DC and Fairfax County for Earth Day.  The Town of Vienna also held a lights out event for the town last year.
For a variety of reasons, including the proliferation of new construction with an exponential growth of new lights on each structure, people are becoming intimately familiar with the impact irresponsible light at night is having and are waking to the fact that it must be curbed.  A good thing for everyone long familiar with its negative consequences.
Students are among those most aware of light pollution from those I talk with, which is so encouraging.  They are eager to learn more and to share the knowledge.  Adults and children alike, care about the rapidly diminishing number of fireflies in their own backyards and parks, which makes for an easy opening to pique interest in addressing light pollution and light trespass and how they can help save the fireflies.
The work that NOVAC and George Mason’s Observatory are doing, along with so many other organizations here in this region is having an amazing impact on bringing this issue to light and in educating people on the small steps that each and everyone of us can take to be part of the solution to this profoundly disturbing modern problem.
Working together, we are making a difference. Soon I will be able to see more of the  stars from my backyard that I used to, as will we all.   Or so I am fervently hoping.
Eileen Kragie
Founder, Dark Sky Friends
IDA Advocate Northern Virginia


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