GOSP takes dark sky message to county


Contributed, Bob Yoesle slide show

SHINING A LIGHT ON DARKNESS: Representatives from and supporters of the Goldendale Observatory showed up last Tuesday at the Klickitat County Commissioners meeting to press for compliance with dark sky policies. A slide from a presentation by Bob Yoesle shows the dramatic difference in night visibility between light spillage on the left and safe, dark-sky friendly lighting on the right. Concerns about safety and costs of dark-sky lighting were raised and addressed, with the group asserting safety could actually be enhanced and costs could be lessened with environmentally sound lighting.

The Goldendale Observatory State Park (GOSP) took its traveling dark-sky road show to the Klickiat County commissioners' meeting last week.

The Observatory is still seeking ways to effectively bring about uniform compliance with dark sky criteria in Goldendale and Klickitat County. While there are some mild ordinances in place, none has been routinely upheld or has substantive teeth for enforcement.

Representing the dark sky cause were Earlene Sullivan, Executive Director of the Greater Goldendale Area Chamber of Commerce; Goldendale amateur astronomer Bob Yoesle; David Ingram, Chairman, Darkskies Northwest in Kent; former Observatory Interpretive Host Steve Stout and current Observatory Interpretive Host Troy Carpenter.

Sullivan started the conversation by saying, "Twenty-two thousand people visited the Goldendale Observatory in 2013. Can you imagine the revenue in this town if only half of them had stayed overnight in our local hotels and eaten in our restaurants?"

"Back in 1979," Yoesle said, "two lighting ordinances were passed-one in Klickitat County and the other in the City of Goldendale. These ordinances are essentially voluntary when it comes to compliance."

The group presented a striking PowerPoint presentation dramatically showing the difference dark sky policies can make and showing specific high-visibility locations in Goldendale that are in flagrant violation of the policy.

"A state-of-the-art Observatory does no good without state-of-the-art skies," Yoesle said.

Anticipating pushback on dark sky implementation because of cost factors, Ingram pointed out the measures save money in the end. "Energy costs decrease with environmentally responsible lighting," he said.

Safety concerns were also addressed, as many feel that people are safer with a lot more light shining. Yoesle's presentation offered a striking demonstration of greater safety with dark-sky compliant lighting.

Dark sky compliance basically means that all lights should be shining with no light coming higher than a horizontal plane with the light fixture, rather than the light spilling upwards in any way. This keeps sky glow, that hazing light aura around populated areas, to a minimum and allows maximum night-sky visbility.

-Reported by Lisa Cunningham

Lisa Cunningham

Yoesle, far right, addresses the commissioners' meeting.


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