Protecting our DarkSky protects us

Barbara Anne Greene

Since going to Sinks Canyon State Park for the Dark Skies celebration, I’ve been obsessed with looking at the stars every clear night. 

Sinks Canyon received Wyoming’s first DarkSky International designation. Jessica Moore is the Sink’s Park superintendent. She gave a very passionate and informative presentation. Much of what she shared is below. 

What does it mean to be a dark sky? Dark skies are defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “Places where the darkness of the night sky is relatively free of interference from artificial light.” It is more than just being able to see some starts at night. 

Why does it matter if we can see stars or not? Research has found that the natural world has a strong dependence on the dark/ light cycle. Humans, many type of wildlife and plants all have need for both light/dark cycles to achieve natural processes and behaviors. Being exposed/surrounded by light 24 hours is not natural. 

The type of light also makes a difference. The yellow light that many of us grew up with is warm and comforting. White light is bright and energizing. The bluer the light, the higher the Kelvins. High Kelvin white lights are having negative impacts on us when used after dusk. Try to use lights with a color temperature that corelates to 3000 Kelvins or less after dusk. 

Approximately 80% of the world is affected by sky glow. It is light cast out from cities and urban development. Humans have evolved with rhythm or our master clock. The American Medical Association says “It is estimated that white LED lamps have a five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional streetlamps. These disruptions can result in increased risk of obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, reproductive problems and certain types of cancers. 

Recent studies have also shown that the constant exposure to light may be contributing to vision disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. Find out more at 

Artificial light also impacts wildlife. 

Part two of this column will appear in a future issue.