Eileen Kragie is a new NOVAC member who joined in 2022. Read her member story below and be sure to check out her recent OpEd on light pollution in the Fairfax County Times.
I’ve been aware of light trespass for decades as the gas station lights from across the alley from my Grandmother’s house in Ashland, Virginia glared into her yard, upper porch, and home. My last summer before moving back to Northern Virginia, Hale Bop was coming through. I spent the summer sleeping on my deck on the ridge in West Virginia near the Appalachian Trail in Harper’s Ferry watching it cross the night sky. I woke during those nights seeing the millions of stars rotating above me overhead.
Moving back to Vienna in 1998, I read that you could still see the Milky Way from Turner Farm Park. I am finding that hard to believe with all of the lights and glow they have created over the intervening years. Maybe you could?! I don’t know.
All I know is I love sitting outside in my backyard, especially during the winter, when the leaves are off the trees and looking at the stars above. I have a vague sense that when we moved here in 1969, there was a sky filled with millions of twinkling stars overhead but I don’t see them now. I can see the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion and I think, Pleiades. And a few more. I love looking at the stars even though I don’t know very much about them and I am enjoying learning about astronomy from the programs through NOVAC and the Observatory at GMU.
I love hiking, trekking, camping, biking, skiing, hiking with my dog in the woods, yoga, and meditating. Basically, anything that is quiet, solitary, and dark at night. I saw my first satellite crossing the sky sitting near 18,000 feet in Nepal in 1992. Somehow in the pit of my stomach, I did not think that was a good thing even way back then.
As an IDA advocate and founder of Dark Sky Friends, a new non-profit, I am committed to educating people about responsible outdoor light at night. Here’s a link to an opinion I wrote for the FairfaxTimes about responsible lighting and uses.
Any help raising awareness, educating people, writing letters to local, state, or regional officials, signing any petitions or letters or just mentioning the growing and pervasive problem of light pollution and light trespass would be so much appreciated. I’m new to all of this too, so any advice, guidance, suggestions, or comments are always welcome. We are all in this together. I just want to be able to sit in my backyard and see my stars again.
If you want to get involved in night-sky advocacy, visit the International Dark-Sky Association’s website here, where you can join as a member or download public outreach materials. You can also join IDA at a discounted rate as part of your membership with NOVAC.