© Pixabay.com. 2015.

The Human Heritage of Dark Skies

For many people, simply remembering the dark skies and starry nights of their youth and wanting that experience for their children and children’s children is the impetus behind their support of dark sky efforts.  Until several generations ago, before urbanization and the widely available technological ability to overwhelm a landscape with lighting, the stars at night were part of the universal human experience; now an estimated 80% of the developed world is unable to see the Milky Way.

Dark Skies as Resource

Natural Resource

A natural resource is anything that people can use which comes from nature, such as air, water, wood, oil, wind energy, iron, and coal.

Dark skies are a guilt-free natural resource: no extraction cost or risk of environmental damage by virtue of its use.  And, with energy savings there is even payback for replenishing and preserving the dark skies, an unusual and distinctly virtuous cycle.

Cultural Resource

Cultural resources are, in the broadest sense, resources significant to human cultures - the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a society.  Some are part of the universal human experience, like dark skies, some specific to a group of people at a particular time in history with various interpretations of the night skies.  Ethno-astronomy is the study of some of these varieties of interpretation.

The human experience of a dark night is expressed in many ways, art, literature, philosophy, film, and others.

Economic Resource

Economic resources are the factors used in providing services (like astro-tourism or dark-sky experiences) or producing goods.  Dark sky is widely used as a way to develop sustainable destination economies for scenic gateway communities in the American West.

Dark Skies Benefit Animal Health


Dark Ranger, Kevin Poe, explains how light pollution affects baby sea turtles and provides ways in which we can help them successfully make their journey from the shore to the ocean.

The state of New York is to turn off non-essential lights in state-run buildings to help birds navigate their migratory routes in spring and autumn. Migrating birds are believed to use stars to navigate but they can be disorientated by electric lights, causing them to crash into buildings.


Learn why bugs are so attracted to light. Ever wonder why your porch light is covered at night with insects and moths? According to Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in a CBS report, "It's kind of complicated, but bugs need a little bit of light in order to navigate."

Dark Skies Benefit Human Health

AMA report

CHICAGO - On June 14, physicians at the American Medical Association's annual meeting issued guidelines on how communities can choose LED streetlights to "minimize potential harmful human health and environmental effects." Converting conventional street light to energy efficient LED lighting leads to cost and energy savings, as well as a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels.