The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Anonymous 

Shine a light on Dark Skies

 


To the Editor:

I am writing to support the efforts to insure the continuation of dark skies over Goldendale and Klickitat County. I am an amateur astronomer who owns property in the county. I was a recent attendee at the Dark Sky Conference at the Observatory whose emphasis was on improving the current lighting regulations both in the city, county and in The Dalles. The second day of the conference was in The Dalles, as they too want to regulate their light pollution. This area is unique in several ways. We have a lighting ordinance already but it needs updating in the face of LCD lighting. This area has truly Dark Skies and may be mentioned as a Dark Sky Preserve. There are very few places in the state or in the nation like this.

I look at Dark Skies as a resource to be enjoyed by all. Even if you have no interest in Astronomy it’s hard not to imagine someone not enjoying seeing all of the stars overhead and the Milky Way’s band of light. The night sky has been a source of wonder for millennia. We have other resources that are managed in this county; the Washington State Department of Game and Fishing ensures continuation of fishing in the Klickitat River and they regulate the hunting activities. We have good water and no atmospheric pollution in part due to regulations and taxes.

Some may opposed to lighting regulation on the basis of costs. To this point I would say Washington State has invested thousands of dollars in the Observatory because of its unique status and its ability to function in a Dark Sky environment. If there is an increase in light pollution, the Observatory will not be able to function, funding will cease and so will the money derived from 20000 visitors per year. People like myself will quit buying property and visiting the area for astronomical purposes. I know of at least 6 other individuals that own property for future homes and Astronomy. My guess is that there are many more than six individual property owners here because of the Dark Skies. We all invite friends and have star parties. I purchase items from Goldendale merchants along with my friends and star party guests. I assume the others do so also. Hence we supply some economic benefit just like that provided by hunting and fishing.

You do have some light pollution here. I see direct light from the substation west of the city. You have individual excessively bright yard lights that are poorly shielded. Also there are light domes from The Dalles, further west in the Columbia Gorge and from the Yakima Valley. Please support efforts to curb the local issues. The Dalles seems interested in curbing theirs. From my vantage west of the city, Goldendale seems pretty subdued, let’s keep it this way.

 

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